The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 36 - June 9, 2010


Island Blood Drive sets another record

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Jennifer Calhoun, of Holmes Beach, came with her husband,
Floyd, to the Island Blood Drive. Its was the first time
either of them ever donated blood.

HOLMES BEACH – It was sweltering outside over the weekend and that made it much easier to head over to the Island Blood Drive inside the air-conditioned St. Bernard Catholic Church Activity Center. In fact, a record 392 donors enjoyed the cool air inside. Last year, the record was set at 368.

"This is wonderful," said Florida Blood Services organizer Wanda Read-Burke. "I want to thank St. Bernard Church for the use of their activity center, people who helped keep things running and the people who came out to donate their blood and save lives."

Many donors agreed to spend a little extra time and give blood through the Alyx system, which separates red cells from the blood and returns what it doesn’t need. Using the Alyx system, it makes it easier for blood banks and certain types of people have a great deal of need for it.

This year, I decided to go through the Alyx system and the down side was it took maybe 10 minutes longer. The upside is that they did not take as much blood from my system meaning I wasn’t as tired when it was over. Another upside is that an unidentified benefactor awards $100 for each pint of blood to one or a combination of up to five listed non-profit organizations, but when you use the Alyx system, that donation doubles to $200.

There were some first time donors there as well. Jennifer and Floyd Calhoun, of Holmes Beach, had never given blood before.

“We’re fans of the Community Center and we wanted to donate for them,” Jennifer Calhoun said. “Having them donate that money to charity motivated us.”

She said the needle in her arm was nothing compared to what that money will mean to the Community Center.

Floyd Calhoun went through the Alyx system his first time.

“I’m 42 years old, and this is my first time donating,” he said. “It is worth it for the Community Center, which is a great part of our lives."

The five agencies were there in force. They are the Anna Maria Island Community Center, the Anna Maria Island Privateers, the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island, Wildlife, Inc. Rehabilitation and Education and the West Manatee Fire Auxiliary.

Sponsors of the event include Florida Blood Services, Domino’s Pizza, the BeachHouse restaurant, Tropicana, The Bradenton Herald and the Anna Maria Island Sun.

Island teen learns the value of giving

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Daniel Janisch and his last guide dog
trainee, Casey, a few days before he turned
her over to Southeast Guide Dogs.

HOLMES BEACH – Daniel Janisch turned in his sixth guide dog recently and is giving up training them for a while. It may be his last, but that depends on what he wants to do later on in life.

Daniel got into raising the dogs for Southeast Guide Dogs when his parents, Suki and Curt, volunteered. As he got older, he participated more in the training, but now at age 16, he needs to concentrate on getting through high school and college. His last dog was Casey.

Will they miss her?

“Oh sure,” Daniel said.

“When I would sit, she would be at my feet,” Curt said. “When she’s not there, it is a constant reminder that she is gone."

The Janisches have two dogs of their own and they began life as guide dog candidates. Vi, a golden retriever-Labrador mix, broke her leg when she jumped from their Jeep. Such distractions kept her from becoming a guide dog. Monte could not get used to the coats the guide dogs wear.

The other dogs they helped socialize include Port, who is now a bomb and arson sniffing dog; Geno, a seeing eye dog who is assigned with an older man who has been blind since birth; Nicholas, who was assigned to a Gulf War veteran who lost his sight in the war; and Casey.

“Generally, the dogs are nine weeks old when we get them,” Daniel said. “We train them to get used to people and places and after a year and a half, we return them to Guide Dogs where they are trained to perform their duties and are then matched to a person who needs them.”

Daniel was seven years old when his parent brought in their first dog.

“I had grown up with dogs when I was a kid, but Curt had never been around them so it began as an experiment to see how it would work,” Suki said.

“We got all the kids in the neighborhood together and we went down to Guide Dogs where we got dogs and took them to the puppy hugging room,” Curt said.

They figured that it would be better to get a guide dog since they would only have it about 18 months, compared to 18 years if they got their own dog. They found out, however, that the large dogs were a fit for them and their home on the bay.

“It was really hard to give up the first one when it became time,” Suki said “We asked Daniel if he wanted to continue with more dogs and he said yes, he wanted to keep doing it.”

Daniel’s hobby got a lot of attention from the other kids his age.

“They think it’s cool,” he said. “They get sad when the old ones have to go away, but they get real excited when we get a new one.”

Daniel learned something about parenting while training the dogs.

“He gets frustrated when a dog does not learn,” Curt said, “like when we ask him to mow the lawn and he doesn’t do it.”

Because they are guide dogs in training, they are allowed where seeing eye dogs are allowed.

“One of the hardest places is the grocery store where there are so many people plus the distractions of the meat counter and the shelves full of dog food,” Curt said. “People look and see the dog is wearing the coat, but Daniel is not blind. Then they realize he is training the dog.”

But now, Daniel has gone through the trauma of having to turn over a dog that he was mainly responsible for and it leaves him a little sad, but undaunted.

“I would recommend this to anyone,” he said.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper