Larry Bloemsma was 29 years old when he started donating blood.
"They'd give us the afternoon off, like Friday afternoon, so I'd say, 'That's a good start for a weekend,' so I started giving then," said Bloemsma.
What began as an excuse to get his weekends off to an early start turned into a lifelong passion and commitment.
"Couple guys had 10 gallons and I said, 'Man, I'd like to hit 10 gallons,'" said Bloemsma. "Took me 20 years to get 10 gallons."
Thursday he celebrated a milestone with his donation of platelets at LifeStream blood bank in San Bernardino.
The blood bank says in the 50 years Bloemsma has donated, he's helped save close to 2,000 lives. He's enjoying the limelight over his one-thousandth donation. But the retired Norton Air Force master sergeant doesn't want one particular title applied to him.
"I don't think I am a hero," said Bloemsma.
And while Blosemsa is 79 years old and on his thousandth donation, he is not the oldest donor to give by far. Bloemsma still has more than 10 years to go before he can claim the prize of oldest donor.
"Everyone knows Larry. He is one of our stalwarts," said Don Escalante, a LifeStream spokesman. "He's one of many, actually, who come every two weeks. They are part of our extended family."
Bloemsma's donation comes at a critical time for the blood bank, which is dealing with a shortage of blood.
"I'll keep going as long as I got breath, I'll keep going," said Bloemsma. "Lord keeps me going."
Once he is finished, Bloemsma says, he has a donation-day routine.
"I take a siesta then and kick back. My wife can't make me do no housework," said Bloemsma.