2014 Floragraph Honorees

The Donate Life float’s Riders represent millions of organ, tissue and cornea transplant recipients who are grateful to donors for their gifts of life.

Keegan Atley Adkins
Keegan Adkins was given an Irish/Gaelic name meaning a “small and fiery or bright flame” – a perfectly fitting name for the son, grandson, brother, and nephew of firefighters. This sweet boy loved school more than most kids and especially loved music and singing. He had a kind heart and was an old soul. When he was only six years old, Keegan suffered a drowning accident at a local pool; his brother had passed away three years earlier. His gift of organ donation has brought his family much peace and comfort. “To know that our little boy gave life to other children and even an adult, he is a true hero in our book!” said his parents Shannon and Scott.

Annie Rachel Ahern
June 26, 2013 was a very special day for Abbey and Robert Ahern: the date they welcomed their third daughter, Annie, into the world. When the parents learned during Abbey’s prenatal ultrasound five months prior that Annie had anencephaly, they prayed for time. They wanted to hold, hug and kiss Annie. They wanted Annie and big sisters Dylan and Harper Lou to meet each other. They wanted other family members to have the chance to embrace “Pistol Annie.” They knew that their physical time with Annie would be short and their moments with Annie precious. Tiny Annie, the first infant organ donor in Oklahoma, graced all their lives and more with her presence.

John Akers, Jr.
John Akers was a charmer whom everyone liked. His father’s death when John was young prompted many struggles for him through his teen years. John’s young life ended in 2009 when he was 27. He was known for helping others, so it was no surprised that he wanted to be an organ donor. Thanks to John’s generosity, 37 people are now enjoying better lives through his gifts of tissue and corneas. His mother Linda’s journey of healing led her down a new path: when a grief companion needed a kidney, Linda stepped forward to be a living donor to her new friend. For John to be honored on this year’s float “is a dream come true,” she said.

Bryce Ian Autry
Bryce Autry was a vivacious six-year-old boy who was loved by his family, friends, teachers and classmates. He loved school and always helped others in his class. In March 2012, Bryce fell out of a wagon and stopped breathing. It was discovered that Bryce had Chiari malformation, a brain condition that can affect balance. Bryce fought for his life for five days before losing the battle. When his family was asked to donate Bryce’s organs, tissue and corneas, they didn’t hesitate. “Knowing the many ways Bryce has helped others has given us solace,” said his father, Ian. “A friend of the family called Bryce a superhero, and he couldn’t be more accurate. Bryce is, and always will be, our little Superhero.”

Jeff Ballard
Jeff was an amazing young man, wonderful son, and dedicated loving dad of two children. He loved cars, motorcycles, and especially Jeeps. While attending a car auction, Jeff experienced a ruptured aneurysm that took his life at the young age of 37. In the aftermath of the loss of her son and his gift of organs, tissue and corneas, Jeff’s mother Connie finds “the recipient and their family’s overwhelming gratitude towards a donor family is a gift in itself.” Connie volunteers for Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates sewing the organ donor quilts for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. “We are up to nine panels now!” she said proudly.

Jay Bennevell Banion
Jay Bennevell Banion was an active, funny, mischievous and resourceful young man. He had many good friends and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Excelling in martial arts, he held a fourth degree black belt in tae kwon do. With a passion for engines, he spent countless hours working on anything that ran. At 21 he enlisted in the Marine Corps, but six weeks before his ship date, a car accident tragically ended his life. His legacy of fixing things lives on through organ donation and the three lives he saved. His passion for living has inspired others to live life to the fullest or “Live like Jay.”

Kaitlyn Berg
Kaitlyn Berg was only four when she was in a fatal car accident. Her mother Marlene Seerup knew she would want to help others have a chance at a better, healthier life via organ donation. She feels blessed to know that Kaitlyn lives on in others. Her heart was transplanted into a 29-month-old girl, her kidneys went to a 38-year-old woman, and her liver saved a two-year-old boy. “Not a day goes by that I do not miss her immensely,” Marlene said. “She was able to be a true hero.”

Josiah David Berger
Josiah David Berger is described by those closest to him as a faithful friend, loving son, an incredible brother to his three siblings – Heather, Cody and Destiny – and follower of Jesus Christ. On August 11, 2009 Josiah was in a single-car accident, and three days later, on what would have been his 19th birthday, Josiah passed away. Unbeknownst to his parents, Josiah had chosen to be an organ donor, and his gifts immediately saved the lives of five people. “We take great pride and joy in Siah’s decision to donate his organs,” said his father Steve. “Siah will now live on in heaven and earth.” Josiah’s House opened in the Dominican Republic in 2010 to offer a productive and hope-filled life to orphaned boys.

Kevin Ellis Boyles
Kevin Ellis Boyles loved sports, the outdoors, and time with family and friends. He was a 22-year-old senior at West Virginia University when he died from an undetected cardiac condition. Kevin, who had just affirmed his donor designation when he renewed his driver’s license six weeks prior to his death, became a tissue and cornea donor. There was a huge outpouring of support from his hometown and college community following his passing, and inspired by Kevin, many signed up to become donors themselves.

Garrett M. Brockway
Garrett Brockway was a fun, caring 10-year-old boy who earned straight A’s and was reading at a ninth grade level. On Feb. 24, 2013, Garrett was struck by a falling tree near his house and died three days later from the injuries he sustained. His caring soul continued to give through donation of multiple organs, tissue and corneas that helped to save and heal the lives of more than 10 people. Letters from seven recipients describing how Garrett’s gifts had saved or changed their lives became gifts to his parents Bruce and Tiffini.

Benjamin Bynum
At 16 years of age, Benjamin Bernard Bynum had a life full of achievements in music, sports, community service, church and leadership. He was also a compassionate giver who always thought of others. At school he had been student of the year, receiving recognition for his excellence in writing, extracurricular activities and community service. He was chosen to participate in a prestigious program, Presidential Leadership: In the Footsteps of Presidents Obama and Lincoln, in August 2009. Tragically, in April of that year a car accident ended his life. His parents were proud to honor his desire to be a donor.

Teresa Lynn Cassavoy
Teresa Lynn (Geans) Cassavoy was a loving wife, mother, sister, daughter and aunt. “Teresa didn’t have an easy life,” said her husband Bryon. “But through it all, she always thought of others before herself.” In March 2012, Teresa went to the doctor’s office thinking she had the flu, but by the next morning she had a seizure caused by a blood clot that herniated her brain stem. “Teresa had always been adamant about organ donation,” recalled Bryon, and her decision was honored as she donated her organs, tissues and corneas to people in need. “In the truest testament to who she was, her greatest gifts were to strangers.”

Angel Nathaniel Chacon
Angel Nathaniel Chacon brought so much love to his family. Only two months after he was born, while Angel was in his bouncy chair he suddenly stopped breathing. Paramedics were able to get his heart beating again, but he was brain dead. Angel’s parents said the decision to donate was easy; the reason his heart started beating again was to help others. Angel is now a hero to his heart recipient, Benjamin, whose mother wrote, “Some people live forever and never do anything heroic. Your son was here only for a short time, and he touched our lives forever. He is our hero.”

Christian Chamberlain
Friday, August 28, 2003 started out like many other days for the Chamberlains. After school, seven-year-old Christian went to his grandparent’s house where his mom, Tara, picked him up. On the way home, they were hit head-on by an SUV. At the hospital, test after test proved that Chris would be in a comatose state for the rest of his life. Two weeks after the accident, the Chamberlains made the decision to let Chris go peacefully. The Chamberlains’ youngest son, Izayah, was born with a kidney condition, so Christian was very familiar with organ donation. “We decided to let Chris help others to have an opportunity to live healthier lives,” said the Chamberlains.

Yo-Sam Choi
Yo-Sam Choi was a world champion boxer who died in 2008 as a result of injuries sustained while defending his World Boxing Council (WBO) inter-continental flyweight title. Although he defeated his challenger on December 25, 2007, he collapsed shortly after the fight ended. Yo-Sam went into a coma, and was take off life support nine days later. Yo-Sam’s heart, liver, kidneys and corneas were donated and brought healing to six people.

Rita Cihak
Rita Cihak loved the outdoors and all animals. She was especially adept at animal husbandry on her family’s farm and had a special talent for rescuing all kinds of animals, from cats and dogs to pot belly pigs. Her firm and gentle nature allowed her to bring them back to healthy and productive lives. Rita also loved to travel, and she spent time in Australia and New Zealand snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef. At age 31, Rita suffered a fatal epileptic seizure. She became an organ, cornea and tissue donor in keeping with her nurturing and giving spirit, and with the hopes of helping more than 60 people through her gifts.

Keegan Scott Clinger
Keegan Scott Clinger was as free spirited, big-hearted young man who loved skateboarding and dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. His dreams were cut short when 21-year-old Keegan was hit by a car while skateboarding and died two days later. He had signed up to be a donor to help others if his own life were lost. Keegan donated his corneas, heart, pancreas, liver and both lungs and kidneys. He also donated bone and tissue, while his colon was donated for research. In his death he was honored by donating all he could to help as many as possible.

Noah Michael Davis
Noah Michael Davis was a kind, healthy, and energetic six-year-old who hoped to be a police officer “so he could make sure everyone was safe.” On June 29, 2012, he disappeared and was later found at the bottom of the family’s swimming pool. He was declared brain dead several days later. When asked about organ donation, no one hesitated, as Noah’s maternal grandmother had worked at the organ recovery agency for more than 26 years. His kidneys were large enough to go to two adults, and on August 27, 2012, Noah’s seventh birthday, he was sworn-in as an honorary police officer and awarded the Medal of Valor for the lives he saved through organ donation.

Theodore “Teddy” Blaine Deterding
Teddy Deterding was an athletic boy who loved playing sports, Matchbox cars, Xbox video games, music, and WWE wrestling. He was kind, a little shy and very funny. In the summer of 2000, Teddy was 11 and attended a program with his family given by the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network. On the way home, his family discussed the importance of being donors and shared their decision to give the ultimate gift when their time came. Just three months later, on August 4, Teddy was in a fatal traffic accident. He donated the gift of life with his organs and corneas.

Melissa Ditta
Melissa Ditta devoted herself to her two children as she had devoted herself to her dolls when she was a child. “Melissa did not play with her dolls, she nurtured them,” said a family friend. As an adult, she was the perfect “class mom” who helped out on field trips and volunteered at sporting events. At age 34, Melissa died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. It did not surprise her family to find that she had already chosen to be an organ and tissue donor. Her decision was honored on May 26, 2012, when she donated her corneas, tissue and five life-saving organs to four people.

Eitan James Djiji
Eitan Djiji was convinced that he would be a famous actor. He had performed several times at the Improv in West Hollywood and had commercial and acting roles to his credit. Tragically, 14-year-old Eitan died as the result of a house fire on August 10, 2010. “We had never discussed organ donation but we knew it was the right thing to do,” said Eitan’s mother Polly. Eitan’s liver and kidneys were transplanted, and his heart valves were also donated. Eitan is forever loved and missed by his parents, brother and two sisters, his extended family and so many friends, all of whom are very proud that he was an organ donor.

Kevin Patrick Dobson
From an early age, Kevin Dobson was driven to help others. He dedicated endless hours to his mother as multiple sclerosis progressed to its final end. He funneled his desire to help through his career as a New York State Trooper. While on duty on a New York area highway, Kevin was struck by a passing motorist and killed instantly. A registered donor, “Kevin prayed that his donation would lessen the suffering of another family,” said his father Richard. “We who loved him in life know that his prayer was answered.” The New York State Trooper Kevin P. Dobson Sr. Memorial Bridge now stands near the place where he died.

Robyn Doiron
Robyn Doiron loved to laugh, go on vacations, and especially loved her cat Sam. She was loving, kind, and a giving person. “There is nothing she wouldn’t do for me or anyone else for that matter,” affirmed her sister Rachel. On the night of her accident, she was rushed to the hospital. When LOPA spoke with Robyn’s family about organ donation, recalled Rachel, “We all knew this was something that she wanted. It was a decision she had made close to 20 years before. We also know because of her kind and generous heart, she would want to help others in any way, especially if it meant saving lives and sparing pain to their families.”

Andrea Rae Dominguez
Andrea Dominguez was a vibrant, caring 22-year-old college student who was known as an unfailing giver. On February 22, 2005, a car accident ended Andrea’s life but allowed her to become a hero as she gave the gift of life and hope. Shortly after her passing, her mother, Ofelia, brought a photo of Andrea and the poem “To Remember Me” to the ICU of University Medical Center of El Paso in inspire others to remember the precious gifts Andrea gave. Soon many photos of heroes graced the wall of the Intensive Care Unit, ultimately forming the first Wall of Heroes that is now being replicated at other hospitals nationwide.

Michael Drozd
On August 12, 2008, Mike Drozd was killed when his truck overturned due to mechanical failure. He was only 46. His wife Pamela knew he had signed up to be an organ donor, but donating organs was not possible due to the extent of his injuries. However, his tissues and bones were recovered and eventually healed 57 people. “Asking ‘why not’ became the theme of his story,” Pam noted “Why not help someone with whatever they need? Why not donate life?”

Christopher Thomas Duffy
Christopher Thomas “Puddy” Duffy lived a spirited and outgoing life and had a special love for teaching and coaching kids’ baseball and wrestling. Chris could always be found at the ballpark – hitting grounders, pitching batting practice, teaching the skills of the game or preparing the field for play. After asking his father about the donor designation on his driver’s license, Chris decided to register but did not have the chance to do so before a brain aneurysm took his life. When his parents were asked about donating his organs, they already knew the answer. Chris’s corneas gave sight to two women, and his tissue healed 45 others.

Dr. Michael Edelstein
For Dr. Michael Edelstein, nothing was more important in life than family and work. He was board certified in internal medicine, psychiatry, and geriatrics and practiced at Sheppard Pratt Health System in Towson, Md. He was also a lover of animals and Southern gospel music. While driving to work on February 27, 2012, Michael was stricken by a fatal heart attack at age 66. As a physician, he knew the importance of organ donation. “Michael Victor Edelstein, M.D. lived all of his life doing good work, caring for others and helping the less fortunate,” said his wife Elaine. “It is befitting that his spirit continues to heal others through his gift of cornea donation to two recipients.”

Andrew Endo
Andrew Endo was a miracle baby born prematurely after a difficult pregnancy. He quickly grew into a happy baby who was the delight of his parents, Bruce and Pam. Not long after Easter, his first and only holiday, Andy’s parents received a call summoning them to the hospital. Andrew had stopped breathing during a nap and couldn’t be revived. He passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). After being approached by a doctor, the Endos agreed to donate organ and tissue samples for SIDS research in the hope of reducing the incidence of SIDS. Since then, the entire family actively supports organ and tissue donation.

Carlos Garcia Escobedo
Carlos Garcia Escobedo, also known as “Goyo”, migrated with his family from Mexico to the U.S. when he was 11. He loved to swim and go camping with his family. Carlos learned how to fix cars in high school, and it became one of his life’s passions. When he was 22, he threw a goodbye party for his friends before starting a trip. Later that night, Carlo suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack. He became a tissue donor, donating his corneas and heart valves. “I am very proud of my son. He was generous when he was alive and in his death too,” said Patricia Escobedo.

Julio Enrique
Julio Buenano was a loving and outgoing 30-year-old who dedicated his life to helping others as a lifeguard, paramedic and pediatric ER nurse. Four months after the birth of his daughter, Julio suffered a tragic, fatal accident at the beach. His family knew he would want to be a donor since he had helped people his entire life. Thanks to his gifts of life, four people were saved, and more than 100 benefited from his tissue donation. His mother, Angela Evans-Buenano, now continues Julio’s mission to save lives by promoting donation as a volunteer.

Jorge A. Fernandez
Jorge Fernandez lived a life of service to his family, his country, and to the patients he nursed. He served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Air Force before becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. As a nurse he gave his all, expecting nothing in return. In 2011, at age 32, Jorge collapsed at the finish line of the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half-Marathon and later passed away, becoming a tissue donor. “His goal was to help anyone in his path whether he knew them or not,” said his proud mother, Maria Gloria Fernandez.

Robert Futch
Michael-Gene Futch knew from the time he first received his driver’s license that he wanted to be an organ donor. Unfortunately, his chance came too soon. On November 20, 2010, at only 19 years of age, Michael was in a fatal auto accident. With his last gift, he was able to save more than a half-dozen people through the donation of his organs, and aided the health and recuperation of countless others through tissue donation. Michael’s family keeps his spirit alive by maintaining regular contact with all of his major organ recipients and carrying on his spirit through The Michael-Gene Kids Basketball Foundation, which provides meals, gifts and leagues for underprivileged children.

Krysta Hankee
Krysta Hankee was a talented, accomplished woman in academics, athletics and public service. However, her true passion was helping others and serving her community. Shortly after she graduated from business school, she collapsed at the gym and died five days later. At 22, she then performed her ultimate community service by saving five lives through organ donation, giving sight to two with cornea transplants and donating skin to the New York Fire Fighters Skin Bank. Her father William said: “Our family and community continue to carry forward her wish to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Evan J. Hauk
Thirteen-year-old Evan Hauk was preparing for a family fishing trip by using worm prods to search for bait in the backyard. He suddenly fell on top of a prod and suffered an electrical shock that stopped his heart. Evan’s mother, Jessica, said that donating Evan’s tissue was a very easy decision to make. “When we knew Evan’s heart wouldn’t start again, the nurse asked me if we had thought about donation,” she recalled. “I answered yes immediately. Donation is helping us live on. It keeps his memory alive, and we know that somewhere out there someone has a part of him and is living better because of him.”

Jesus Alejandro Hernandez
Jesus Hernandez was a friendly boy who grew up playing sports and surrounded by friends. He was a poet and an excellent artist. After dropping out of high school he started working in construction. He was only 21 when he was returning home from work and was struck by a bullet from a drive-by shooting. Jesus’ organs were donated, and he saved the lives of six people. “It was a good decision,” his mother said. “I’m happy he helped so many people.”

Cory Scott Horton
Cory Scott Horton inspired and encouraged everyone he met. A swimming teacher, he founded the Memphis Thunder Aquatic Club, a competitive swim team, and co-founded Memphis Thunder Racing, a triathlon team for racers of all ages and ability levels. His coaching skills and personable nature won over kids, parents and other swim coaches alike. In May 2005, 35-year-old Cory was cycling when he was involved in an accident with a large truck that tragically cut his life short. When the family was asked about organ donation, the answer was a resounding yes. They said, “There is nothing more comforting than the knowledge that Cory’s organs have helped others to live longer and healthier lives.”

Mike James
Mike James loved life and helping people. He served in the U.S. Army at several bases before joining the police force in Prince George County, Md. and later Phoenix City, Ala. In 1991, Mike watched his own son Michael die from an auto accident, and it upset him that Michael’s organs couldn’t be used to save someone else’s life. In February 1993, at the age of 47, Mike suffered an aneurysm that led to a car accident; he was later pronounced brain dead. Knowing Mike’s wishes made it easy for his family to donate his tissue and organs, among them his liver, which went to 2014 Donate Life Rose Parade float rider Amy Tippins.

Terence Kennedy
Terence Kennedy was known as a proud father of five and a kind, warm, humble and generous man. Through his work as a financial consultant to many non-profit and religious organizations, he was able to show his commitment to service and to his community. Terence was able to spend a great deal of time with his family, including his nine grandchildren, until his sudden death on August 12, 2011, at the age of 73. As a cornea donor, he helped two people regain the gift of sight. Terence was a man who, in the words of his daughter Karen, “lived his life in service to others; through donation, he was able to continue that service to others.”

Jantz H. Kinzer Jr.
Jantz Hughes Kinzer, Jr. (Baby Jantz) was an adorable two-year-old who was adored by his four brothers and sisters. One October afternoon he was playing outside with five-year-old Cade, who came back inside without his brother. Going back outside, they found that Baby Jantz had fallen into the family’s pool. His mother Michelle began CPR while calls were made to paramedics. He seemed better at the hospital that night, but by the next morning Baby Jantz was brain dead. His parents, Michelle and Jantz, had already talked about organ donation. “There would be no reason not to try and help somebody,” she said. Their son’s kidneys and liver saved a woman and a baby boy.

Sean LaPersonerie
Sean LaPersonerie was a devoted son, brother, friend and soldier who served four months in Iraq as a heavy field artillery operator in the U.S. Army Third Infantry Division. On Jan. 7, 2012, just one year after he returned home, 24-year-old Sean passed away from extensive head injuries suffered from an auto accident. As a soldier, Sean made a difference in the lives of so many people. As a registered donor, his ultimate gifts of organ, tissue and corneas saved the lives of three people and helped countless others. His mother helped found “Sean’s Gift,” which provides hand-knit blankets of comfort and support for donor families.

Nick Leath
Nicholas Leath had a true zest for life. He loved anything connected with cars and motorcycles. Nick was also a talented artist who excelled at drawing. He was able to combine these two great passions when he started his own mobile detailing company at age 20. Nick loved helping others; it came to him naturally. He died on October 10, 1997, at age 30 from injuries sustained practicing stunt motorcycle racing. “Knowing Nick’s nature made the decision to donate his organs easy for us,” said his mother Harriet. “We knew that was exactly what he would have wanted to do.” As a result, Nick saved three people facing life-threatening illnesses.

Chin-Te Liao
Chin-Te Liao was always brave. His mother Li-Ling said, “By giving him the name ‘Chin-Te’ we hoped he could advance his virtue [Chin means to advance, Te means virtue].” Chin-Te didn’t let anyone down. Whenever he fell down, he stood right back up. At age seven during summer vacation, Chin-Te was found in a hotel swimming pool but it was too late. He remained on a respirator for more than 20 hours. His parents decided to donate Chin Te’s tissues to fulfill someone else’s wishes, and his corneas to give sight and demonstrate his love to the world.

Adam Fletcher Lively
Adam Lively was a mischievous, fun-loving young man who was especially close to his older brothers, David and Mark. Adam was 22 and enjoying life as a senior philosophy major at East Tennessee State University when on a rainy night in January 1998, he was in a car with friends when the driver swerved to miss an animal. The vehicle rolled over and Adam struck his head. He was kept on life support for four days before he was declared brain dead. Six weeks prior, he had told his mother he wanted to be an organ donor if anything should happen to him. “Adam made the decision for us, and it is a decision we have never regretted,” said his father David.

Daisy A. Lobos
From birth, Daisy A. Lobos was a ray of sunshine. At age four, she was diagnosed with an abnormal circulatory system condition. As she grew up, her parents kept a watchful eye over her while she tried to be a “normal” kid. Daisy had her first surgery for an aneurysm when she was 11. Six years later, the same condition required a second operation, but she did not survive the surgery. Daisy saved the lives of two people through the gifts of her pancreas and kidneys. Her mother Rosa is now an active volunteer promoting organ donation in Washington, D.C.

Ena “Po-Po” Lue
A January night in 2010 would become one of devastation, loss, and then miracles for the family of Ena “Po-Po” Lue. She was killed during a routine airport pickup, and the decision to donate was left in the hands of Po-Po’s children. The siblings unanimously said “Yes!” as Po-Po always put others before herself. The way she lived her life made it easy for her children to continue her legacy through the gift of life. She saved three lives as an organ donor and her tissues healed 43 more. Subsequently her daughter Jackie joined the staff of NJ Sharing Network to continue to inspire others to donate life.

Darwin Mathwig
Throughout his adult life, Darwin Mathwig was committed to his family and community service, values he and his wife Nancy shared with their three children. A retired 20-year member of his local fire department, Darwin served on numerous boards and committees. But foremost in service was his dedication of 31 years to the Arlington Lions Club, during which he became governor of 63 clubs in south central Minnesota. When Darwin died at age 58 of pancreatic cancer, he donated his eyes to research. Nancy declared that “Darwin’s life was one of service, and through the many lives he bettered, as well as the selfless donation of his eyes, Darwin still serves.”

Elijah Cole McGinley
Elijah “Eli” Cole McGinley was prayed for long before he was born. At the 20-week ultrasound, the McGinleys learned that not only were they expecting twins, but that one son, Eli, would be born with spina bifida. On August 3, 2009, the McGinleys welcomed their twin sons, Eli and Walker. Eli took his last breath in the arms of his parents and beside his twin brother when he was just five days old. It was that very day he gave the gift of life. Eli will always be perfect in his parents’ eyes. “We gave birth to a hero,” said his mother, Jodie.

Leslie R. McLendon
Leslie McLendon, known as “DJ Lady Mac,” loved life, dancing and her family. She worked as a counselor at Boys Town and as a community organizer and outreach specialist for her local Community Blood Center. Leslie was 45 on Dec. 15, 2012, when she was driving with her sister and nephews to a sorority show rehearsal. Suddenly, she slumped over and had difficulty breathing. Leslie had suffered full cardiac arrest. Practicing what she preached, she was a registered organ donor. Earlier this year her sister organized the inaugural “Leslie Legacy of Love” blood drive, the most successful drive ever held in Kansas City’s African American community.

Marianne O’Quinn
Marianne O’Quinn was an inspired and inspiring educator and mentor who worked for 27 years as a teacher and later as a vice-principal. When she was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2000, she received a living donor transplant from her brother Bill. As a Donate Life Ambassador, Marianne brought the same dedication she exhibited in the classroom to her efforts to inspire the community to support organ donation. Marianne said, “When you talk with other people, you can connect.” Marianne died on June 4, 2013 after a fall at home. She continued to serve others with the donation of her lungs, liver and corneas.

Jonathan E. Peter
Jonathan Peter was a Florida native who grew up in the simpler times of the 1950s. He was particularly skilled at marine mechanics, his chosen profession, yet he was known for his ability to fix anything else. To his wife, Evelyn, he was a good man with a huge heart. “He was so real and honest, patient and kind, a caring and wonderful husband and my best friend,” she recalled. Jonathan was 56 years old when he passed away and was able to donate the gift of sight with his corneas. Evelyn hope that the recipients are able to “live each day to the fullest” and are kind, just like Jonathan.

India Kimberly Phillips
India Phillips was a spunky, kind, compassionate four-year-old. Upon meeting a new friend, she often gave them her toy as a parting gift. When she died suddenly on Nov. 2, 2011 from Group A strep, India’s parents knew that she would have wanted to donate her organs. Later, many people told India’s family about ways she had made their child feel welcome. In response, India’s pre-school teacher wrote a children’s book, “The Friendship Fairy,” to recognize India’s compassionate and generous spirit. To honor India, her family created a foundation to continue her generous acts and her mission to make everyone feel loved and included.

Travis James Rhodes
Travis Rhodes was a devoted husband and father who cherished spending time with his three-year old son Taylor. An ardent LSU fan, Travis took Taylor to his first LSU tailgating party when he was just six months old. Travis loved fishing, riding four wheelers, and boating, buying a race boat at age 33. Travis died shortly thereafter when his boat flipped during practice. Through his donations of eyes and tissue, he gave sight to two people and healed more than 50 others. “Travis was the most giving person – with the biggest heart – of anyone I knew,” recalled his wife Renee.

Cheryl Lynn Denelli Righter
Cheryl Lynn Denelli Righter was a force of nature. She an activist for peace and equality, helped children as a paraprofessional for a decade, and was a shared living provider for a woman with cerebral palsy for 18 years. She raised her only daughter as a single mother after a drunk driver tragically killed her husband when their baby was barely two years old. Cheryl had a massive stroke on February 12, 2013, but her heart continued beating until Valentine’s Day. “Mum believed that everything happened for a reason, and I believe she chose Carmen Tarleton Blandin specifically to be the recipient of her beautiful face,” said her daughter Marinda. “We are so very proud of my mother’s legend.”

Fernando Rivera
A 17-year-old junior in high school, Fernando Rivera was a good student and member of the football team. On May 17, 2011, after hearing loud gunshots outside their home, his father went to check on Fernando and found him with multiple bullet wounds in the head. He could not be saved. After his passing, it was his mother, Alejandra Rivera, who asked if they could donate his organs. Fernando was able to save four lives, and Alejandra has since met his heart and liver recipients. “I couldn’t be more proud of my son,” she declared.

Gilbert Frank Rivera
Gilbert Frank Rivera was an athletic young man who loved team sports and skateboarding. Raised in Santa Ana, he was very loyal and motivated and a wonderful son, sometimes surprising his mother by cleaning the house before she even awakened. When he was 20, he was shot and passed away the next day. In the past, he had expressed his wish to donate his liver to help an uncle, so his mother, Georgette, consented to donate his organs, tissue and corneas. He saved the lives of two men and three women.

Dylan Anthony Rotellini
Dylan Rotellini was a wonderful 18-year-old with a kind heart, contagious laughter, and incredible smile. “Dylan had an amazing gift of making every person feel special,” said his mother Tammy. On March 21, 2013, Dylan was in a horrific car accident in which he sustained traumatic brain injuries. His wish to be a donor was honored, and he was able to donate tissue and corneas. Tammy affirmed, “In a time of horrible heartache and grief, we find comfort in knowing another family will have a second chance because of our wonderful son’s generosity and love.”

Jaidyn Kiara Rothermel
In September 2011, the Rothermel family suffered the greatest of tragedies when their beautiful 3-year-old daughter Jaidyn fell into the pool and drowned. “It was difficult to believe that anything good could come out of those dark days,” recalled Jaidyn’s mother Trina. Over time, the transplant of Jaidyn’s kidneys to two mothers of three as well as her corneas has been a source of comfort. “Our tragedy has taught us some important lessons,” affirmed Trina. “You are never too young or old to care or give. Our family will always feel different about little pink dots on driver’s licenses, realizing it might be the miracle of life that someone else is praying for.”

Richard Allen Ruble
Like his father before him, Richard was a devoted coal miner, rarely taking a day off for 25 years. Family was the most important thing to Richard, who rarely missed one of his children’s sporting events, recitals, or school functions. Not long after tornadoes ripped through Alabama on April 27, 2011, Richard was named the Volunteer Construction Coordinator for the Long Term Recovery Committee and led the reconstruction of over 200 homes, receiving a commendation from Governor Robert Bentley. After his death, when asked in the hospital about the possibility of donating his organs, there was no hesitation by his family. “Richard had made it clear that if he could help others in his passing, he undoubtedly wanted to do so,” said his daughter.

Anthony “AJ” Salisbury
AJ Salisbury’s life was filled with music. He mastered nearly every instrument, often teaching himself how to play. Throughout his high school years, AJ played in every musical event he could, ranging from the orchestra, to jazz band, to winter drum line. In his last years of college, his musical interests focused on his rock star status. On January 26, 2009, at age 24, AJ died from a rare cancer on 11 months after first being diagnosed. Because his father was a cornea recipient, AJ was quite familiar with donation and transplantation. His cancer prevented all but eye donation, but AJ knew abut the precious gift of sight which he gave.

Joshua Christopher San Pedro
After graduating from Alta Loma High School and attending Citrus College, Joshua San Pedro worked as an EMT while attending paramedic school. While in high school, Josh suffered a football injury and underwent three operations, including one in which he received a kneecap replacement from an allograft. As a result he wanted to help others as he had been helped by registering as a donor. Upon his sudden death at the age of 22, Josh’s decision to donate was honored when he gave tissue to help cancer survivors and a child with a cleft palate, among others. Josh was a loving and caring person, qualities he shared as a donor.

Tyson Lee Schreiber
Tyson Schreiber was a multi-sport athlete who won state-level medals in high school. When he received his learner’s permit, he also learned about organ donation and said, “I want to be a donor.” At age 16 and with his family’s consent, he became a blood donor. In February 2012, at age 19, Tyson died as a result of critical injuries from a car accident. His mother Juliana takes comfort from the fact that “our beautiful son lives on through others,” especially the six people alive today because of Tyson’s willingness to donate life.

Todd Semon
For much of his adult life, Todd Semon dealt with the impact of heart disease. He suffered a massive heart attack in 1990 at age 38, which was then followed by a cycle of illness, hospitalizations, and eventually the need for a heart transplant in Fall 1999. The donated heart he received in January 2000 transformed Todd and his whole family. He was able to become active again, drive and play golf, and became a board member of the New York Organ Donor Network. In November 2012, Todd died at home at age 60, offering a living legacy of donated tissue.

Patrick Shillings
Patrick Shillings’ mother Rena described him as an ‘”old soul.” He was a people person to whom others genuinely responded. Patrick was devoted to his family; his passion was taking care of his sister Morgan, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. At age 21, Patrick had been studying to be an EMT when he was brutally shot in a case of mistaken identity on Oct. 18, 2009. Rena had discussed organ donation with her children and knew Patrick would be in favor of donating his tissue. “The decision was easy to make because just as Pat was very helpful to others in life, he had discussed being a donor in death.”

Robert Sills
Robert Sills became a tissue donor when he died February 27, 2010, after suffering a brain aneurysm while driving on the freeway. He was 65 years old and left behind a loving wife, two daughters and grandchildren. While Robert was a registered donor, his wife Barbara was not: “When I saw how many people Robert was able to help, even after his death, I realized how selfish I had been and quickly registered as an organ donor,” she acknowledged. Robert was able to donate his corneas and 179 tissue grafts to help 180 people. “We are so proud of his legacy of life,” said his daughter Bergen.

Lareanz Simmons
Lareanz Simmons, 14, was a good student with a knack for algebra. He was in ROTC and had planned to go into the military or become a police officer after high school. Although he had no enemies and had never been in a fight, Lareanz was killed in a drive-by shooting while walking home from a friend’s house. “Lareanz had a great mind, a great heart, and a great love for everyone,” recalled his grandmother, who knew that he would want to be an organ donor. In doing so, he saved the lives of four people. Lareanz has since been honored by the City of Riverside with a bench with a memorial plaque.

Howard S. “Howie” Smith, M.D.
Dr. Howard Smith was a respected anesthesiologist who emphasized palliative care and pain management. His wife, Joan, an ER nurse, said that Howard “dedicated his professional life to taking the pain out of his patient’s lives.” His personal life, however, was dedicated to Joan and their four children and the countless friends who were infected by his contagious laugh. He died suddenly at age 56 after suffering a heart attack. In donating his kidney and corneas, Joan reflected that “we take comfort in knowing he was able to give others a second chance in life. It was something he always strove to do.”

Jerry L. Spinks
Jerry L. Spinks spent most of his life giving. He gave 25 years to his country, 15 years to people who were grieving and, after his death, gave the precious gift of sight. Spinks, a retired Navy veteran of 25 years and beloved member of his community, was just 63 when he died of a massive heart attack. Jerry found a second career at West Funeral Home, where his comforting manner helped people cope with their loss and co-workers knew they could always count on him. With a family member seeing due to a cornea transplant, Jerry’s family knew firsthand the importance of donation.

Christine K. Springer
Christine Springer was a natural born mother. She took special care of her children, welcomed her children’s friends into her home, nursed her parents, took in her husband’s half-brothers and delighted in each grandchild and great-grandchild. Chris gladly put her dreams aside so her loved ones could live theirs. After watching her granddaughter, Ali, receive the gift of a new liver, Chris knew that one day she wanted to be a donor. A stroke in 2007 took Chris’s life, but she was able to fulfill her wish of giving the gift of life by becoming a liver donor.

Kameron Shigeo Lanaki Steinhoff
Kameron Steinhoff was a basketball star who was honored with many accolades, including State Basketball Player of the Year during his senior year of high school. He guided his school to the state championship that same season. Known as the “Hawaiian Superman,” Kameron was fearless. On May 17, 2011, while a junior at Hawaii Pacific University, 21-year-old Kameron fell while skateboarding and suffered a fatal brain injury. He was a generous spirit even in death, and had registered with the local DMV to be an organ donor, a demonstration of his generous spirit.

Patricia Streich-McConnell was a giving person. As a child, she wanted to know why some people didn’t have all their limbs or could not hear or see. As an adult, she helped anyone she could. A mother of three, Patricia taught her children to have charity for others, curiosity for the world around them, and a deep appreciation for nature. At age 34, Patricia suffered a severe asthma attack and collapsed. As a registered donor, her decision was honored the four people saved by her organs and many others healed through donated tissue and bone. Her family hopes that her gifts will inspire others to follow Patricia’s example.

Audrey Jade Hope Sullenger
Audrey Sullenger was only three days old when she suddenly stopped breathing. Her mother, Felicia Hill, had been holding her first-born child, but nothing could be done to save her. In the midst of her own grief, Felicia saw that Audrey could help others. On May 7, 2011, Audrey was able to donate her organs and tissue. Her tiny heart saved a three-week-old infant whose transplant occurred on Mother’s Day. Audrey’s kidneys meant a 38-year-old woman could finally be free of dialysis. “Audrey lived six short days, but she forever lives in many hearts!” Felicia proclaimed.

John Talbot
John (Johnny) Talbot was a very special little boy with big blue eyes who always brought a smile to the faces of those who knew him. He was only two years old when a tragic car accident took his life and those of his father and aunt. “There was so much sadness happening in my life,” said his mother Merry, who now helps other donor families as the director of Aftercare Services at Mid-America Transplant Services. “I wanted to be able to share a part of Johnny’s special life through the gift of organ donation. It was the best decision I could have ever made.” Johnny’s gifts of a liver and two kidneys saved the lives of two children.

Rex A. Tickles
Raised in Banner and Cedar Bluff, Virginia, Rex A. Tickles moved with his close-knit family of seven brothers and sisters to Kansas City, Kansas. While serving in the U.S. Navy, he met his wife of 40 years and enjoyed filling his life with service to family and friends. On a Saturday in Oct. 2012, an early morning phone call proved to be as ominous as the hour suggested. “The reality of our sudden loss was made easier by the comfort of knowing he would have the opportunity to help others, and to live on through them as well,” recalled his daughter Tina. “Through the gift of bone and tissue donation, he continues to serve others in a new way.”

Erich Richard Vogel
Erich Vogel had a gentle personality and a witty sense of humor. He loved many things, but most of all he loved his wife Bethany and their son Kieran. On August 6, 2009, the day began like any other, but for Erich it would be his last despite best medical efforts to save him. At age 41, Erich had registered as a donor, believing he could help someone else much as Bethany’s knees had been restored with bone allografts. In all, he helped more than 64 people with his gifts of tissue and bone, while his corneas helped two people to regain their sight.

Joshua Thomas Waleryszak
At the age of nine months, Joshua Waleryszak was diagnosed as mentally retarded. Several years later, he was stricken by a seizure disorder not uncommon in children with developmental disabilities. He suffered several life-threatening illnesses, but because he could not speak, he could not tell anyone if he was hurt. When he was 12, Joshua lost his battle to live. More than 350 people attended his memorial service, many of them Seattle firefighters wearing dress uniforms to honor their colleague, Joshua’s mother, and Joshua. As part of his legacy, Joshua donated both kidneys and his liver.

Joseph Keith Wallace
Joseph Keith Wallace was often the life of the party, surrounded by countless friends who valued his selfless nature. Keith had an outstanding work ethic, was a leader throughout his life, and was an accomplished athlete in multiple sports. While helping a friend Keith experienced severe headaches and drifted into a coma. He died a day later at age 25 from a ruptured brain aneurysm. Less than a year before, Keith had registered as a donor. His decision saved four lives through organ donation and healed many others through tissue donation. This genuine, selfless man lived his life helping others. His legacy will now help inspire others to follow his example.

Christopher Walters
Seven-year-old Christopher Walters loved school, Cub Scouts, camping, sports, and reading his Bible. But most of all, he liked helping others, just like his dad Rob, who was a firefighter and donation advocate. After drowning in a friend’s pool, Christopher donated his corneas and heart valves. Rob said it because of how his son lived his life. “He didn’t know what it was to be focused on himself. He worried about what everyone else was doing and how he could help them,” Rob asserted. He noted that “our hope is that those who received a donation from Christopher will continue to grow and do good for others.”

Zachary Wildhaber
Zachary Wildhaber enjoyed bringing a smile to peoples’ faces. He loved fishing, hunting, and figuring out how things worked, and had planned to attend technical school in the fall of 2012. However, on February 13 of that year, Zac was critically injured in a car accident and declared brain dead at age 17. Zac was able to save five lives through organ donation and save many more through his gifts of bone and tissue. “Without organ donation, Zac’s story is a tragic loss,” said his mother Amy. “With organ donation, Zac’s story is a tragic loss that ends with a lot of love and healing for all involved.”

Lindsey Denae Woodward
Lindsey Woodward wanted to make a difference in the world. She was only 14, but she helped many people by giving shoes to children in Africa, filling backpacks with toiletries for the homeless, and putting together Christmas gifts for children around the world. On June 14, 2011, Lindsey was declared brain dead after an automobile accident; her parents donated her organs, corneas and tissue. “She was always the first to help anyone she could, so the decision to donate her organs and tissue was something my husband and I knew she would want,” said her mother, Jackie, who became an active Donate Life Ambassador with OneLegacy, her local organ recovery agency.

Noah C. Worthington
Eleven-year-old Noah Worthington was an All-Star baseball player whose team won the state tournament two years in a row. He was a voracious reader who was considered especially talented at fiction writing, and excelled at playing the piano – he even wrote his own music. On May 6, 2011, Noah was involved in a terrible auto accident with his friend Cale. Both were fatally injured. As an organ donor he saved three children and one adult. His mother Rhena said, “We feel it an honor and a privilege to have been the family of one of the greatest boys to have ever graced God’s earth.”

Paul John Young
At age 19, Paul Young became the youngest paramedic in Nevada. He took his role as fire captain and paramedic both seriously and passionately. During his 36-year career, he saved countless lives as an EMS with the fire department and private ambulance companies. It was no surprise when his family found out that he was an organ donor. Paul was able to save and heal 30 lives via organ, tissue and cornea donations he made at age 55, when he died from complications after neurological surgery. His passion for helping people is his living legacy.