DAYTON — Other than a couple of nights at Niagara Falls, Dayton donor Randall Felts and his wife Eunhee haven’t had a vacation in 20 years. They’ll make up for lost time by celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, Randall’s retirement, and an emotional family reunion when they travel to Hawaii as grand-prize winners in the Community Blood Center (CBC) “Get on Board – Give Blood” Summer Blood Drive.
The promise of an exotic, expense-paid, eight-night vacation for two in the Hawaiian island paradise encouraged 26,524 people to register to donate with CBC this summer, resulting in 23,104 donations. Everyone who registered to donate from May 4 through Aug. 28 was automatically entered in the drawing. REACH magazine served as media sponsor and The Flowerman sponsored fresh flowers.
Randall entered the drawing when he made his 76th lifetime blood donation on June 17 at the downtown Dayton CBC Donor Center.
“It was a hope,” he said. “I retire next year in January, and it would be the perfect present for ourselves.”
Randall retired from the Air Force in 1995 with the rank of major after 23 years of active duty. He’s a Nashville, Tenn. native who got to know Dayton during assignments at Wright Patterson Air Force Base that included assistant police chief and missile defense system research.
Since then he’s taught English as a second language at Sinclair Community College and the University of Dayton, and has also been taking classes in dietetics. He served seven tours in Korea, and it was there that he met his bride Eunhee. She’s an avid golfer who has been trying for years to teach him the game. They have two adult children, son Nick and daughter Sandy, who both live in Dayton.
The Felts will be married 30 years on Sept. 24. Both celebrate their birthdays in January, and for Randall, turning 62 will mean retirement. They’ll roll all the celebrations into one during the Hawaii trip, which they plan to take in March. But the most exciting prospect – and what seems most to be providence – is a reunion in Hawaii with Eunhee’s 90-year-old mother from Korea.
“She was going to come (to Dayton) this year anyway,” Eunhee said. “This would maybe be her last visit here. I called and told her, ‘Now there’s no other option – you’re coming!’ He’s worked so hard and this year retiring. This is a gift from God.”
For Randall, the trip will also be a tribute to his father, who inspired him to become a blood donor.
“I feel fortunate,” he said. “My dad was a very active donor. I remember his gold gallon donor pins. I went with him when I was 16 or 17. He died of cancer and he always wanted to give back.”
Randall already knows what he’ll enjoy most about the beaches of Hawaii. He envisions roaming the white sand… with a metal detector in hand.
“After we got married, he stayed in Korea and taught,” said Eunhee. “He took a metal detector to the beach and in a month he found 130 gold rings. Now everybody there has metal detectors!”
Randall didn’t need any help hitting the jackpot of the “Get on Board” summer blood drive. So far his luck has been golden. When he returns from Hawaii he plans to put his studies in dietetics to work by volunteering to help the elderly receive better nutrition in their golden years.
However it may take more than luck to learn golf.
“He can hit the ball, but he’s not listening,” Eunhee said of her struggling pupil.
“I’m a good teacher,” Randall replied, but not a good student!”