MOUNT PLEASANT — Sports, cars and Andy Griffith. That’s usually the talk of the morning when Ken Rubin and his friends gather for breakfast at Denny’s, 5501 Washington Ave., every eight weeks or so.
But they aren’t just there for some good conversation and pancakes; these men are here for a cause that means the world to most of them. They are getting ready to donate blood.
Rubin’s donation journey began in 1976 when he was in his early 30s. That was when Wayne Hejny, Rubin’s friend and a fellow State Farm insurance agent, asked Rubin to join him to donate.
“If Wayne hadn’t asked me to join him that day, I’m not sure if I ever would have gone,” Rubin said.
Now, as Rubin and Hejny are in their 70s and 80s, they have been donating blood for nearly 50 years.
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About 15 years ago, Rubin started his group that includes friends, neighbors, people he met through business and members of Rubin’s Church, Faith Community Church, 215 South Newman Road. After each breakfast, the group donates blood at Versiti Blood Center, 1120 S. Sunnyslope Drive, where Rubin also volunteers.
It is required for blood donors to wait eight weeks between donations.
Scott Bosak, Bob Appleton, Jerry Werwie, Dennis Franklin, Chris Carlson and Ceaser Perea make up the core group of guys, with other members participating on and off throughout the years.
Over the past 15 years, the group has donated made 572 donations, which equates to about 71.5 gallons of blood.
To Rubin and his blood donor pals, breakfast is almost as important as donating.
“A healthy breakfast is a positive element for blood donation,” Rubin said.
According to the American Red Cross, eating a breakfast of iron-rich foods such as red meats and iron-fortified cereals aids blood production, making it easier and safer to donate.
But the most important part of this most important meal of the day? Sharing it with friends.
“Blood donors in general donate individually and might be more sporadic,” Rubin said. “Invitations to join donors could encourage more donors, and a group activity should create greater consistency as a social event.”
Donors like this group are especially needed right now. The American Red Cross earlier this year declared its “first-ever blood crisis” as blood banks experienced what was considered their “worst blood shortage in over a decade,” potentially putting lives at risk.
Franklin, who joined the group on a chance when encountering Rubin and his friends on his way to donate, equated being part of the group to being on a team.
“You don’t want to let the team down,” Franklin said.
Also according to the American Red Cross, somebody in the U.S. needs blood or platelets every two seconds. Approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed daily, and 5,000 units of platelets and 6,500 units of plasma are needed as well.
“If we rubes can do it, other people can too,” Bosak said.
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