Myron Hughes is a recognizable face within the Cincinnati community. After all, he was a star player for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats basketball team, a co-captain for two years, named MVP in his senior year—and even played professionally for a year in Germany before embarking on his professional career.
But nowadays, Myron is more interested in giving back to the community and his alma mater. As the Chair of the Community Advisory Board at Hoxworth Blood Center, Myron plays a key role in advancing Hoxworth’s mission of saving lives close to home.
“I’ve been involved with Hoxworth for the past nine years or so and I’ve served as Board Secretary and Vice-Chair of the Board over the years. Lew Assaley (a former board member) introduced me to the board,” he recalls.
Members of the Community Advisory Board assist Hoxworth in building and maintaining its blood collection operations by advising on questions and policies regarding organizational and community relationships, implementing and carrying out programs to increase community involvement in blood donation activities, and supporting the center in fund raising initiatives. It’s rewarding work to help a local organization achieve its goals, Myron believes, but Hoxworth’s mission is particularly meaningful to him.
“One of my cousins died of sickle cell disease, so that gave me a stronger reason to want to help and give back,” he says. “Now, I feel it’s my duty and mission to give as much as possible—especially because my cousin died of sickle cell disease.”
Sickle cell disease is an inherited red blood cell disorder, in which normally round, flexible red blood cells become hard and sickle shaped. These abnormal cells inhibit normal blood flow and cause symptoms like pain, infections, and even strokes; regular transfusions of healthy blood cells are critical for many individuals suffering from this condition.
“Because of Hoxworth and the people who donate, healthy blood is available for people with sickle cell,” says Myron. “Most people with sickle cell are African-American individuals. Therefore, how do we get more minorities to give blood? That was part of the purpose for me getting on the board.”
And since getting involved in the Hoxworth Community Advisory board, Myron has taken it upon himself to become a regular donor.
“I actually started donating once I started serving on the Board!” he says. He finds the act of saving a life to be uniquely thrilling.
“I know first-hand, it will save or impact someone’s life and I get a thrill because of that,” he says. “Just knowing I’m making a difference is what this is all about. Helping others, especially when you don’t have to let them know, is what this is all about!”
“Honestly, I didn’t realize how important blood donation was until I became more engaged and educated,” he continues. “My cousin tried to convince me to donate but he never told me why, and I didn’t know the overall importance until after his death. More recently, in May 2021, my aunt, who was like a mother to me, died of cancer—but she had multiple transfusions prior to her death. So, again, I feel that it is my duty to do what I can to help our community.”
This commitment to his community and to improving the lives of those around him is why Myron also makes a point to try and convince others to donate.
“I’m often trying to get people to give,” he says. “I tell people, it’s not as bad as you think! It’s a little stick then you just sit there and talk to others who are giving back to save lives.”
“Plus, the exciting part is at the end when you get a chance to down chocolate chip cookies,” he adds. “Secretly that’s another big reason I go, but don’t tell my wife—because she says I eat way too many cookies! But, all in all, it’s an easy process especially after you get past the little stick.”
There’s also a sense of community in being a blood donor, he says. Being on Hoxworth’s board and donating regularly has made Myron appreciate “the strong passion others have for the life and well-being of others.”
“Sometimes you think you are fighting this battle alone,” he notes. “But then you see others give back and support one another.”
All in all, Myron says, being part of Hoxworth has been an incredibly rewarding experience, both professionally and personally.
“I find it an extreme honor and privilege to serve on the board in my current capacity and to give back to my alma mater and to the Cincinnati and global community,” he says. “I don’t have much to give but the little bit of blood that I give, I hope it can enrich someone else in a tremendous manner, for them and their family. And I thank my fellow board members, my fraternity Brothers, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., and other donors who take time out of the schedules to donate blood to help others.”