Miami East senior wins CBC scholarship

CASSTOWN — Karilyn Willenbrink said goodbye to Miami East High School on Monday, May 22, by parading the halls on the Senior Walk, playing saxophone for the last time with the school band, declaring Ohio University as her college, and accepting a $1,000 award from Community Blood Center and Vectren as a Lead The Way Creative Scholarship winner.

Karilyn is one of five Lead The Way winners for 2017, and the second consecutive winner from Miami East High School. She follows 2016 winner Karson Mahaney.

The applicants were challenged to design a winning marketing campaign for a high school blood drive. They submitted a campaign slogan, explained why it would encourage fellow students to donate, and expressed their campaign theme with one or more innovative and artistic marketing techniques.

CBC’s Dana Puterbaugh presented the award to Karilyn during Monday’s Senior Walk and Declaration Day assembly, a new event introduced by Miami East Principal Todd Gentis. She showed the crowd Karilyn’s winning campaign t-shirt design featuring red vampire lips and fangs and the slogan, “The Blood is The Life.”

“That summed up everything blood donation is about: saving lives,” Karilyn said.

Karilyn is a CBC Red Cord Honor graduate with five lifetime blood donations. She was clearly on a mission to bring vampire humor back to school blood drives. “I figured this scholarship was my opportunity to change that,” she wrote in her scholarship application.

Karilyn says her research into Dracula quotes revealed a universal message.

“Not everything in Dracula is scary or painful… there is motivating knowledge that ‘the blood is the life’ and it can save the lives of others. For those who already donate as much as possible like I do, this will serve as a reminder as to what their visits to Community Blood Center truly mean.”

Karilyn plans to study theater and creative writing at Ohio University and would like to work as an actress, writer, and high school theater director.

The 2017 Lead The Way winners include: Aliya Stine from Newton High School, Kayla Kohler from Botkins High School, and Krista Felzien and Evan Binkley, both from Northeastern High School.

The $5,000 Lead The Way scholarship program is supported by a grant from Vectren. CBC and Vectren annually award $1,000 in college tuition assistance to five graduating, college-bound seniors whose high school hosts a CBC blood drive.