Boys Staters roll up sleeves

More than 100 delegates to American Legion Buckeye Boys State went home on Sunday minus two cups of
blood, but secure in the knowledge their donation to the American Red Cross Bloodmobile helped save
three lives.
With approval from BBS Director Jerry White, Terry Shinn, a donor recruiter with the American Red Cross
of Northwest Ohio, arranged for a six-hour bloodmobile to be set up at BBS on Saturday, the first time
it had ever occurred. Based on her smaller staff, she estimated it would be possible to take 140 donors,
six every 15 minutes for six hours.
On Sunday, White said the bloodmobile secured 119 pints, but were unable to get to the additional teens
who had registered. Earlier in the week, 190 delegates had listed their intent to donate.
BBS used the bloodmobile as a learning experience for the delegates, involving the 32 city safety service
directors, state board of health and teens working with the Expo Commission. Shinn told the delegates
attending an organizational meeting the Red Cross needed 300 pints of blood a day in the Toledo area to
supply the area’s 23 hospitals. She noted several times that "each person who donates blood can
help save three lives."
Since 1978 BBS has been held on the campus of Bowling Green State University. Program trustees met with
BGSU officials during the week to negotiate details of a new contract. By Sunday nothing had yet been
signed, but the trustees meet again in mid-August and a contract may be finalized then.
Visiting BBS for the first four days of the program was Jill Druskis, deputy director of Americanism and
Children and Youth Division at the American Legion national headquarters in Indianapolis. The division
oversees not only the 49 Boys State programs but American Legion baseball, the Legion’s support of Boy
Scouts of America and public speaking.
A veteran of the Navy for seven years and the Coast Guard Reserves for 17 years, Druskis brought
greetings to the delegates on behalf of the American Legion’s national commander and its 2.6 million
Legionnaires. She informed the teens during the June 14 evening assembly that the Legion believed
strongly their education and citizenship "is important to the nation’s future and American way of
life."
Prior to Tuesday’s inauguration, Druskis said she only knew about BBS from what she’d read. "Unless
you actually get to come and see it, that’s really a treat that’s phenomenal. I’ll tell them what a
great program it truly is." Druskis expressed admiration that BBS teaches young men not only about
state government but instills leadership and patriotism.
Though she has no formal report to make at the national headquarters, she expected to give a verbal
report to the National Americanism Commission when it meets in fall in Indianapolis.
Druskis had previously visited the Indiana’s Boys State program and hopes to visit other Boys State
programs in more states. Forty-nine out of 50 states hold a Boys State government program; only Hawaii
doesn’t have one.
Visiting the program for several days was Nick Messenger of Bowling Green, a 2008 delegate who was
elected the first BBS governor from Wood County. During Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s visit to BBS on
Monday, Messenger re-connected with him. The two had a few moments to shake hands, and Messenger told
Strickland he would be attending Ohio State.
"I’m glad you’re doing well," said Strickland, adding he would look forward to Messenger’s
possible internship in his office in the fall.
Messenger said family events kept him from returning to BBS as a counselor this year, but he was able to
visit with Kevin Justice, his former lieutenant governor who was on the counseling staff. The recent
Bowling Green High School graduate said he had five months of experience working on President Obama’s
presidential campaign, and BBS had sparked his interest in getting involved in the political process and
serving.