OGLETOWN, Del. – The inaugural Love for Lisa Blood Drive booked 71 donors at the Delaware Saungerbund & Library Association near Christiana on Sunday, October 15.
It was an outstanding performance for what organizers hope would be the first of many to come. As they intended, the blood drive was a touching tribute to the memory of the late Lisa Schmalbach Boyer, who left an indelible mark on many before she passed away of leukemia on October 15, 2022.
This blood drive was coordinated by Dean Dyer, Pete Boyer, Judy Ariganello, Kim Habbert, Gretchen Loose and Christie Murphy. They worked with Blood Bank of Delmarva Account Manager Mary Moore for what they hope will be an annual event. Dean is Manager, Enterprise Collaboration Systems for New York Blood Center Enterprises, parent company of the Blood Bank of Delmarva.
Kim, is the head coach of the Wilmington University women’s volleyball team, had her team volunteer at the blood drive’s canteen.
“We’re here to support our coach and the friend that she lost, and to connect with the community,” said Wilmington University freshman Alivia Jonika.
The blood drive was held a year to the day that Lisa passed away. Coack Habbert found out just half an hour before the volleyball’s 11 a.m. game that day.
“They had to go through this with me, so this was something they were quick to say yes to. Let’s go help,” Kim said. “She was my best friend. We were at each other’s weddings. I coach at the university, and I also work at Christiana High School where we do three blood drives year. So, I’m very familiar with all this.”
Lisa was an athletic trainer who previously worked with Dean and his wife, Rebecca, at ATI Physical Therapy. She was one of those larger-than-life, gregarious people who was always laughing and was always fun to be around. Lisa also worked with a number of local high schools. In fact a few of the donors on Sunday were from one of those schools, Padua Academy in Wilmington.
Tragically, she passed away after a battle with leukemia.
“We were shocked,” Dean said. “We didn’t know how bad off she was. It hit us hard. We processed it, and one my former coworkers was saying that while Lisa was ill, they had donated blood here [at BBD] for people like her.”
That inspired Dean to organize a blood drive that would help people experiencing an illness like Lisa went through. When he called Lisa’s widower, Pete, he loved the idea and told how Lisa, during her treatments, wasn’t always able to get all the blood she needed due to blood supply shortage. Thus, they proceeded to work with Mary to schedule the Love for Lisa Blood Drive.
In addition to Pete, Lisa’ widower, his and Lisa’ daughter, Emma Boyer was at the blood drive along with Lisa’s mother, Ann Schalbach, and Lisa’s sister, Robin Schmalbach.
They, along with friends of Lisa’s, became emotional as they fondly remembered Lisa.
“She was a very giving person, and she would be thrilled at this,” Ann said.
“I realized when she got sick how much blood was necessary,” Pete said. “Hopefully, this event will continue to grow.”
Director, Donor Resources Nicole Pineault and Director of Donor Recruitment Joanna Arat, whom Nicole is training, were impressed with the inaugural showing.
Dean said they’re already planning to hold next year’s event on October 13, 2024.
Among the donors at this year’s event were Andrew and Tina Greene, who are members of the Delaware Saungerbund is home of the famous, annual Oktoberfest.
“She always gets all the emails, and we try to give blood as often as we can,” Andrew said. (He also coordinates the blood drives held at the Masonic Lodge in Newark.)
Jane Boudart was also among the donors. She was friends with Lisa.
“I was very close to Lisa. She was my daughter’s athletic trainer at Padua,” Jane said, tearing up. “She’s looking down.”