September 22, 2020

VERSAILLES, Ohio - In August the 69th annual Versailles Poultry Days adjusted to pandemic precautions but carried on.  A month later, the same was true of the fourth annual Steve Knapke Memorial Blood Drive, co-sponsored by the Versailles Poultry Days Committee Sept. 21at the Versailles Knights of Columbus hall.

Blood drive restrictions under COVID-19 meant the Knapke family and committee members couldn't spend the day welcoming donors and serving special refreshments in the Donor CafĂ©. Despite this year's challenges, the blood drive equaled last year's total of 150 donors.   Platelet and plasma donors increased to 16 and whole blood donations to 139 for 110% of the collection goal.

Steve Knapke was inspired to become a donor after needing blood transfusions to survive a 1988 auto accident. He became a platelet donor and totaled 81 lifetime donations. Tragically, another car accident in 2016 claimed his life and injured his wife Lois. The first Steve Knapke Memorial Blood Drive was in 2018.

"I knew Steve and I know the family," said Dennis Mestemaker as he donated platelets for his 157th lifetime donation. "I do this all the time. I remember him donating platelets. He was a good guy."

"I know the family," said Steve Cordonnier, who made his 74th whole blood donation. "Lois was the school nurse and my wife was a teacher. He was a blood donor too. I remember I would come to the blood drive and I'd see him. It was just so tragic. And tragedy just followed him from the first accident to the second."

Jackie Kremer made her 105th lifetime donation Monday in support of the Knapke family and the Poultry Days committee. She is treasurer of the Versailles School District and worked with Lois Knapke when she was the school nurse.   Jackie was also a Poultry Committee volunteer for 17 years and the first female committee chair.

Despite the pandemic, the 69th annual Poultry Days carried on as a socially-distanced event Aug. 14-16. The festival cancelled all social activities, but managed to barbecue, package and sell 21,850 chicken dinners.

"This year it was chicken only," said Jackie. "People drove up and waited in line forever! They eventually had to get more chicken - they didn't know everyone would support it like they did. It is our main fundraiser."