Vernon Hills business holds blood drive at 'the beach'

  • Mike Aukerman, CEO of DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen in Vernon Hills, talks with blood donor Sara Grupe of Vernon Hills who attended what he called the two-day American Red Cross Hawaiian- and Jamaican-themed blood drive held at his store.

      Mike Aukerman, CEO of DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen in Vernon Hills, talks with blood donor Sara Grupe of Vernon Hills who attended what he called the two-day American Red Cross Hawaiian- and Jamaican-themed blood drive held at his store. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Sara Grupe of Vernon Hills donated blood Wednesday during a tropical-themed event at DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen in Vernon Hills.

      Sara Grupe of Vernon Hills donated blood Wednesday during a tropical-themed event at DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen in Vernon Hills. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Blood donor Jynine Czarny of Arlington Heights is assisted by Red Cross team member Jose Bernal on Wednesday during a tropical-themed blood drive at DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen in Vernon Hills organized by store CED Mike Aukerman. The event featured fake birds on palm trees and tropical music playing in the background to calm people while they donate blood.

      Blood donor Jynine Czarny of Arlington Heights is assisted by Red Cross team member Jose Bernal on Wednesday during a tropical-themed blood drive at DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen in Vernon Hills organized by store CED Mike Aukerman. The event featured fake birds on palm trees and tropical music playing in the background to calm people while they donate blood. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/7/2021 6:01 PM

Visitors to DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen in Vernon Hills on Wednesday were given a Hawaiian lei when they were greeted at the door by CEO Mike Aukerman, who was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, casual pants and sandals.

Welcome to the second day of what he called his two-day American Red Cross Hawaiian- and Jamaican-themed blood drive.

 

"Part of the thought behind the (tropical vacation theme) is that nobody likes to get their arm stuck with a needle," said Aukerman, who added he holds a blood drive every six months. "A lot of people do it but it's not the most fun thing to do in the world so why not make it a nice little atmosphere?"

The setting featured a tiki bar, palm trees, and Jimmy Buffett music for regulars and first-timers as they donated blood.

Jynine Czarny of Arlington Heights made the trip to Vernon Hills and said she hoped for a successful blood donation, "depending how my veins want to act."

Czarny said the tropical-themed event was "super cute," and something she didn't expect. She agreed with other donors that it calmed her down.

Lead Red Cross technician Jose Bernal said officials hoped to collect 46 pints of blood that would be processed in Peoria, then returned to the area.

"The need is always constant even in COVID times," Bernal said.

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