2015 Walkers

Donate Life’s Float Walkers represent over 130,000 living donors whose gifts have saved the lives of family, friends and even strangers.

Diane Brockington
Diane Scott Brockington was an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers and had watched their star player, John Brockington, on the field. A college professor, Diane moved in 1986 to San Diego, where she met John at a local deli. When John suffered kidney failure in 2000, Diane and her daughters offered to become his donor. Diane and John were a match, and she donated her kidney to him on November 28, 2001. After a decade of friendship, the two married. Together they direct the John Brockington Foundation to increase organ donation and raise funds for people for pre- and post-transplant patients. Diane is also the co-founder of Donate Life San Diego; on the board of directors of Donate Life America; and on the advisory boards of both Explore Transplant and Lifesharing.

JoAnne Burka
JoAnne Burka and Dawn Gallo had been friends for 40 years. When Dawn was a high school senior, she began a lifelong struggle with lupus, an autoimmune disease that affected her kidneys and heart. Twenty-six years later, JoAnne had wanted to give Dawn a kidney, but they weren’t a match and the local kidney exchange never took place. When Dawn’s struggles finally ended with her peaceful passing in December 2011, 50-year-old JoAnne decided to give the gift of life in Dawn’s name. “When life gets crazy, I look at the scar and remember what really matters: I was able to save a life,” she reflected. JoAnne now uses her living donor experience to inspire others to become donors.

Carla Cochran
Carla Cochran discovered that her 18-month-old son Ted had been born with a blockage at the neck of his bladder; his kidneys were only half-functioning. After multiple surgeries, Ted was able to grow up and live a normal life until age 27, when he experienced end-stage renal failure. He needed a transplant, and Carla was a match. The successful surgeries took place on August 29, 2006. Ted was so inspired that he set up My Angel Foundation to help spread awareness of donation in their state. And every year on his transplant anniversary, he sends a bouquet of roses to his mother for giving him back his life.

Kjersti Cote
Kjersti Cote grew up not knowing her biological father, John. They met when she was 24. After he was bit by a venomous brown recluse spider in 1998, he developed health problems that gradually worsened. By August 2004, he was so ill that he needed a kidney transplant. Kjersti knew “deep in my heart that I was his donor, and that this was just one mission that I was to fulfill on earth.” After testing, it was determined that Kjersti was the only match in the family who could donate. On February 1, 2005, just twenty-three days after John was placed on the transplant list, Kjersti donated her kidney and saved her father’s life.

Richard Glover
Richard and Julie Glover have always been giving people. In 2009, they went on vacation to visit Julie’s friend Stacy and her husband Bill, who had been suffering from kidney disease. Richard was struck by the severity of his illness. In early 2010, Bill was rushed to the hospital and was not expected to make it through the night. Richard prayed for him, and when Bill survived, Richard decided to donate his kidney to Bill. The transplant occurred on July 14, 2010. Richard found later that their journey “has touched his family, friends, and community, as well as blessing me by sharing the story of my living donor journey to thousands of people as a OneLegacy Ambassador.”

Frances Griffith
In 2011, Civil Engineer Frances Griffith received an email from her longtime friend and colleague Linda Weaver that she was being placed on the transplant waiting list. “After visiting with the transplant coordinator at Baptist Hospital, I went home that evening and told my husband that I knew I was the one”, Frances said. The transplant was made successfully on August 9, 2011, when Frances was 51. Today she and Linda spend as much time together as possible, and Frances serves on the Arkansas Donor Family Council. “The joy I get in seeing Linda be able to live a more healthy life, free from dialysis, has made it all worthwhile,” Frances explained, “and the donation experience has enriched my life beyond words.”

Maureen “Reenie” Harris
Maureen “Reenie” Harris has been a caring, giving person from a young age. After her daughter, Dr. Natasha Kruse, donated a kidney altruistically, it came as no surprise, when at age 70, Reenie decided to donate her kidney to a stranger and became the oldest living donor in the United States. When asked why she would donate to a complete stranger, she said, “I’ve enjoyed good health and keen awareness. Throughout my life I’ve been given many opportunities to connect with people in ways I never could have imagined. The heartfelt connections in each case were unexpected gifts. My answer when asked WHY I donated is WHY NOT!”

Natasha Kruse
In June 2012, Natasha Kruse was 39 when she donated her kidney altruistically through a kidney exchange program to a young man at UCLA. After years of research, she knew she was ready. “I thought to myself, I’m healthy and this feels like a very natural way for me to give to someone in need,” said Natasha, a psychologist. Natasha’s mother, Reenie Harris, was at the hospital when Natasha donated her kidney and accidentally met her daughter’s recipient family Reenie was so moved by the experience that she decided to become an altruistic donor, as well. Mother and daughter will walk together alongside the float to inspire others to save lives through living donation.

Cheryl Manley
Cheryl Manley’s transplant story began in November 1996 when her family was returning from church. Her older daughters were in a separate car and wound up in a terrible accident. Her daughter Alisa survived her injuries, but her daughter Amanda succumbed to her injuries and became an organ and tissue donor. Since Amanda’s donation, Cheryl has worked as a donation advocate and in 2002 she met a donor mom named Stephanie. The two families became close. Earlier this year, Stephanie told Cheryl her kidneys were failing. Cheryl was able to donate her kidney to Stephanie on October 16, 2014. Now a few months later, Cheryl will walk beside the float and the floragraph of Amanda Philpott, the daughter she lost but whose gifts helped so many others.

Bill Cordova Martinez
Bill Cordova Martinez has dedicated his life to helping others. He grew up in a loving family with twin brothers and a younger sister, Marianne, with whom he developed a close bond. Their bond grew even stronger as they grew up. When Bill heard Marianne had kidney disease and would have to wait a long time for a new kidney, he gave her one of his. Marianne was able to carry on for 12 more years with Bill’s kidney until she passed away on June 4, 2013 from a fatal accident. Throughout that time, Bill continued to show the unconditional love and courage that had come to define him.

Laurie LoMonaco
In early 2010, Laurie LoMonaco was watching a television show about a man who had donated a kidney altruistically. Her first thought was, “I can do that!” After two years of researching living organ donation and a year of testing, Laurie donated her kidney to a man she had only met once, over a decade ago, who was very ill and on dialysis. She said later that it had been easier to do the surgery than it was to tell friends and loved ones her plan. She did share her story with Paul Guyette, who was inspired by her gift. Paul became a donor at 42, and his floragraph will be on the float as Laurie walks alongside on New Year’s Day.

Reverend Jin-Tak Park
Rev. Jin-Tak Park began his multi- decade work of promoting organ donation almost by chance. He believed in blood donation and had promoted it in Seoul, Korea, where he was born. After moving to Los Angeles in 1991, he met a Korean-American family whose father had been declared brain dead from an accident. The family wanted to donate his organs “for the sake of love.” Inspired by this act, Rev. Park returned to Korea and established the Korea Organ Donor Program (KODP). He then donated his own kidney altruistically. “I served at the pleasure of God and the reward of letting me live a healthy and happy life for 50 years,” Rev. Park recalled. Thanks to KODP and Rev. Park, some 3,000 people have received the gift of life, and Rev. Park remains a healthy advocate of donation.