Coming back to give back

During the summer of 2011, a 2009 Wapakoneta High School graduate came back to her hometown to give back.

Georgetown College (Kentucky) student Devon Golden, a member of the Georgetown Tigers women’s basketball team, helped recruit blood donors for an American Red Cross blood drive for two youths, Jason Strauser and Jesse Doseck, who died from cancer. Earlier this month, she received the Auglaize County Youth of the Year Award for 2011 from the American Red Cross in Allen, Auglaize and Hardin counties.

“When they informed me I was going to receive the award, I just thought of all the experiences I have had with the American Red Cross and all the experiences I hope to have in the future,” Golden said, noting she and a teammate have already helped organize two blood drives on campus this year. “I have just had a really good experience with the American Red Cross so far — starting with my trip to Washington, D.C. I went on last year to now and ever since that trip I have had nothing but good experiences with them.”

The July 2011 blood drive resulted in more than 100 units of blood being collected.

“I called our representative in the area last year about setting up a drive and she notified me and told me there was already a drive happening,” Golden said. “She said that she would talk to Judy Strauser and she knew I had gone on that trip, but she asked me if I wanted to help them with their drive.

“I thought it was a really cool thing to help with because I was doing it in the memory of two great young men and it was just a really fun and humbling experience to impact that,” she said.  

Golden said she hopes to continue the work for local blood drives to honor Strausser. She has been in contact with Judy Strauser who wants to organize another blood drive this year.

Jason Strauser, the son of Judy and Rick Strauser, died from cancer on May 30, 2011, at the age of 17. He was originally diagnosed with his first brain tumor when he was 10.

Jason Strauser, who would have graduated with his classmates this year, was a junior at Wapakoneta High School when he died. He was a member of Salem United Methodist Church and was employed at Arby’s in Wapakoneta.

Jesse Doseck, the son of Amy and Tony Tester and Christopher Doseck, died at the age of 15 on May 21, 2009. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in May 2005.

He was a freshmen at Wapakoneta High School and a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church, where he was involved in many youth groups. He also would have graduated this year.

For now, Golden plans to continue her work on earning degrees in business management and political science. She intends to enroll in law school in 2013.

She said the summer blood drive helped her take a step back and realize what is really important in life. She also mentioned she gained a greater perspective on life from having grown up in Wapakoneta.

“I think, especially at the high school having spoken to my classmates here at Georgetown, not only the community but the schools here (in Wapakoneta) give us a lot of opportunities to volunteer,” Golden said, noting she was a member of the Octagon Club, National Honor Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “I know that I and my classmates took advantage of those opportunities and it just instills that feeling that there is something bigger than you are and that is what is important in life.”