Blood drive continues in memory of former Dairy Queen owner

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With blood flowing from their arms through an IV to a sterile bag, Briana and Jordan Henry thought about their father.

Jeff Henry was 58 when he died in December 2011 from mesothelioma of the lungs, a rare form of cancer that is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos.

The next spring, the siblings and their mother, Terri Henry, wanted to carry on Jeff’s giving heart by doing something in his memory.

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That’s how the Pint for Pint Blood Drive started.

On June 8, the event was conducted for the sixth year in a row at Dairy Queen, 316 E. Tipton St., Seymour. Terri and Jeff bought the business in 2000, and their children have worked there over the years and continue to do so today.

Keeping the blood drive going is important to the family.

“He gave back. He had a good heart. That’s why we do this. That’s what he would have done,” Briana, who recently turned 26, said of her father.

“He was real giving, wanted to help people in need,” Jordan, 20, said. “He would do anything for anybody.”

While Briana said her father most likely would have said people don’t need to do things for him, he would be proud of his children for doing the blood drive and thinking of others.

Terri, who also rolled up her sleeve and donated blood even though she’s not a fan of needles, said she’s proud of her children’s efforts.

“I think a lot of people in the community know the Henrys and know that we would do anything for anybody,” she said. “That makes me and the kids feel good to know that we’re giving back, we’re helping and we’re doing this for a good cause. It keeps their dad’s memory alive.”

This year’s blood drive, run by Indiana Blood Center, brought in 23 pints.

Anyone who donated blood or attempted to donate but couldn’t for various reasons was given a coupon for a free pint of ice cream at Dairy Queen.

A raffle and a silent auction also were set up outside the Indiana Blood Center’s recreational vehicle with proceeds going to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis.

“When we first started we didn’t have tents outside,” Briana said. “Now, to see how it has grown, our families are involved, so the turnout is great.”

A year before Jeff’s mesothelioma diagnosis, Terri said a doctor thought he had pneumonia. When he didn’t get better, they sought a second opinion and learned it was mesothelioma.

Out of high school, Jeff had served a few years in the U.S. Navy.

“He was on the freightliner where the ships come in,” Terri said. “He told me when he found out what he had, he said, ‘There was a rope in front of me wrapped with asbestos,’ and he had to light it to let the aircraft know where to land.”

Jeff was given four options. He could not do anything and have less than two years to live, and he didn’t want that. He could take chemotherapy but only three rounds because it was such a strong cancer. He tried that, but it didn’t work.

Another option was to go to Boston or New York for a surgery. The doctor recommended New York, and Jeff and his wife went there Nov. 9, 2011.

“They said he was a good candidate because he didn’t smoke or drink, and he wasn’t overweight or anything,” Terri said.

They returned to New York in mid-December for Jeff to have the surgery. He and Terri were supposed to fly home a week later, but the doctor told them they might have to stay past Christmas. Briana and Jordan flew out to see them, and Jeff wound up passing away shortly after.

When Briana and Jordan initially shared their idea of a blood drive, Terri said it was emotional.

“Jeff was always one that he would give anybody anything, so my kids are like, ‘We want to give back to the community, what dad would do,’” Terri said. “The New York hospital, they were wonderful, and the kids got to experience it and see (Jeff). They wanted to give back to the community.”

In the past, the blood drive only lasted three hours. After 13 people had to be turned away last year because they ran out of time, the Indiana Blood Center was able to extend it an hour this year with more staff members on hand to ensure everyone who wanted to give could do so.

Besides helping their mother run Dairy Queen, Briana is finishing up her bachelor’s degree in nursing and works at Columbus Regional Health, and Jordan is studying business at Ivy Tech Community College and works at Bob Poynter GM.

They plan to continue doing the blood drive, too.

“As long as it keeps getting bigger and bigger, every year it keeps growing, so that’s a plus,” Jordan said.

“We look forward to it next year,” Briana said. “I already have plans in the works.”

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