Hollie Gray, Organ Donor, Ontario, Canada, 1998 - 2008

Shortly before entering Grade 6, Hollie Gray died of a brain aneurysm. It was just days before her 11th birthday. On Sept. 5, 2008, 240 pink balloons were released in front of the Roseneath Centennial Public School in honor of Hollie's birthday, said Ms. Gray. Hollie died on Sept. 1, 2008.

The balloon release was the start of the Living Pink Balloon project idea, which supports SickKids Foundation and brain and behavior research. This concept is based on the idea of the living Green Ribbon created by the Trillium Foundation (gift of life organ donation), said Ms. Gray. Hollie was an organ donor and saved five lives, she said.

After Hollie's death, Ms. Gray knew that she needed to do something and wanted to give back to SickKids and raise awareness. For more information on the Living Pink Balloon project, visit the website at livingpinkballoon

Fausto Armenta, Organ Donor, New York, 2011

Fausto Armenta, a 20 year old Mexican, was considered by his older brother, Juan Armenta, to have a big heart. At age 14, Fausto crossed the border from Mexico to the United States with his brother to seek a better life. However, on the morning of May 30, the young man was found unconscious on a street in Queens and later declared brain dead by doctors at Elmhurst Hospital.
"The police have not given us any information about his death," said his brother John. "We do not know if it was racism, an accident or revenge, as he was severely beaten.

"It was a painful decision that I was not ready to make," said his brother Juan "I was hoping that my brother would recover."  While donating the organs of a loved one can be very heartbreaking, Juan added, "Part of me knew it was the right decision.

Fausto Armenta’s heart helped saved the life of a 7-year-old child.

Kristen Nicole "Sissy" Lovell

Kristen Nicole “Sissy” Lovell, 16, of Gilmore, OK passed away Wednesday, June 29, 2011 in Howe, OK. Kristen was born July 12, 1994 in Altus, OK to Chris & Brandie (Darnell) Lovell. She was a student. Kristen was preceded in death by her paternal great grandparents, Burl & Mary Darnell; and great grandparent, Eddie H. “Red” Breashears.

Survivors include her parents, Chris & Brandie Lovell of Gilmore, OK; brother, Jake Lovell of Gilmore, OK; Sister & Brother in Law, Summer & Michael Campbell of Howe, OK; boyfriend, Nick “Buttercup” Goff of Keota, OK; Maternal grandparents, Chris & Vickie Darnell of Gilmore, OK; great grandmother, Phyllis Breashears of Gilmore, OK; paternal great grandparents, Charles & Wanda Phillips of Howe, OK; paternal grandparents, David & Linda Hall of Howe, OK; paternal grandparents, Terry & Cheryl Lovell of Shady Point, OK; paternal great grandmother, Dorothy Hall of Howe, OK; aunts & uncles, Christie “Kiki” & Kenny Gream of Ft. Stewart, GA, Billy & Linda Phillips of Norman, OK; other aunts, uncles, cousins, & lots of friends.

Services will be 10 am, Saturday, July 2, 2011 at the Springhill Baptist Church, Monroe, OK with Rev. Ryan McCullah & Rev. Chris Lovell officiating. Interment will follow at Vaughn Cemetery, Gilmore, OK. Pallbearers will be Billy Phillips, Cory Phillips, Dusty Mattox, Bobby Martin, Joby VanHook, Michael Campbell. Honorary pallbearers will be Rachel Armstrong, Jordan Wilburn, LeeAnn Phillips, Chasity Sanders, & Meagan Hollingshead.

The family will be at the funeral home on Friday evening from 6-8 pm to visit with relatives & friends.

Chris Hansen, why don't you have a seat over there?

Chris Hansen

There have been a lot of ironic reports lately, but this one takes the cake. Chris Hansen of "To Catch a Predator" fame was the target of a hidden camera investigation, where he was caught cheating on his wife with a woman 20 years younger than him. I wonder if he offered her milk and cookies first LOL. (PS: Yes I made on small edit to this report, but the media needs to call PJ what it truly is, a cyber-terrorist group, NOT a watchdog group)


He's made his name with a controversial show that catches would-be internet sex perverts in televised stings.
But now Chris Hansen has found himself on the receiving end of his own hidden camera tactics, after the married NBC anchor was secretly filmed on an illicit date with a blonde television reporter 20 years his junior.
Hansen, 51, has allegedly been having an affair with Kristyn Caddell, a 30-year-old Florida journalist, for the last four months.
Last weekend he was recorded taking Miss Caddell on a romantic dinner at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton hotel in Manalapan, before spending the night at her Palm Beach apartment.
Hansen, who has two young sons, was caught in an undercover sting operation arranged by the National Enquirer.
Secret cameras filmed the couple as they arrived at the hotel for dinner and then drove back to her apartment - where the pair left, carrying luggage, at 8am the following day.
Hansen lives in Connecticut with his wife Mary, 53, but he has been spending more and more time in South Florida investigating the disappearance of James 'Jimmy T' Trindade - and allegedly sleeping with Miss Caddell.
A source told the newspaper the pair met in March, when they were both out with friends at the Blue Martini Lounge in Palm Beach.
Miss Caddell, who was once an intern with NBC in New York, introduced herself to Hansen in the VIP area, and 'there was an immediate physical attraction between them', according to the source.
The source alleged: 'Chris and Kristyn got on so well that she ended up going back to his room at The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach - and later boasted to pals about staying the night with him.'
The couple have allegedly continued to meet up in Miami and Palm Beach over the last few months, with Miss Caddell and her friends even flying to New York to spend a weekend boating with Hansen, the Enquirer reports.
According to the source: 'Chris sends Kristyn flowers and tells her he loves her, but he still doesn't seem all that motivated to leave his wife for her.
'He's telling her he loves his wife too, but they've grown apart over the years, and she's not sure what he should do.'
Hansen has worked for NBC for two decades, but became famous with his controversial Dateline series To Catch a Predator.
The show's producers work with CYBER-TERRORIST GROUP Perverted-Justice, whose volunteers pose as underage girls offering sex on the internet.
But when they arrive to meet the girls, they find themselves confronted by Hansen, his film crew and sometimes the police.
The Enquirer's sting took place last weekend, and recorded the pair as they went for dinner at the Ritz-Carlton's Angle restaurant on Friday at about 7pm.
Miss Caddell was dressed up in high heels and a short, revealing dress, and according to the source they spent much of the evening staring into each other's eyes.
They left at 9.15pm, and went for a drive along the ocean front, before being filmed filling up Miss Caddell's Jeep at a nearby gas station.
Then they drove to a liquor store, and Hansen emerged clutching a bag full of bottles. The couple returned to Miss Caddell's apartment at 10pm. At 8am on Saturday, they, with Hansen pulling luggage behind him, and she drove him  to the airport. A source told the Enquirer: 'They were both wearing different clothes from the night before... Kristyn's hair was dishevelled as if she'd just rolled out of bed.'

So many books, so little time

Back before I was even pregnant with my first son I harbored this little fantasy of what life enceinte would be like. I imagined something akin to an extended beach vacation (a smooth, sandy Great Lakes beach) where my only responsibilities were to plump out and devour all the books I ever wanted to read.

I got the plump part right at least.

Instead, right up to my delivery date, I taught two classes at Northern Arizona University—much of the time in pain from sciatica. Between grading and clearing out the spare bedroom as a nursery, reading took a back seat. My husband, Ralph, was teaching fulltime at NAU and commuting up and down the mountain to Arizona State University in Tempe for his final PhD class. Our son Erik’s December birth coincided with Ralph finishing his coursework.

I went back to teaching parttime a semester after Erik was born. Sleep deprivation and school work trumped reading. It horrifies me to think of it now, but I only read one book that entire year: a Barbara Michaels romantic suspense novel that obviously did not keep me in too much suspense.

Fast forward to late summer 1995: I’m recovering from the C-section birth of my second son (my mother, God bless her, ‘edited’ my legs out from many of the pictures of me in bed holding my new baby. A career as an old-timey circus sideshow attraction was surely an option for me then…and I ain’t talking about the Bearded Lady.).

Why I chose as post-pregnancy reading material the Kazuo Ishiguro book from the library I did, the title of which escapes me and even a trip to Amazon doesn’t enlighten me, I’ll never know. I still have nightmares about that book. The ceaseless repetitive surreal scenes did not mix well with the pain pill Percoset. I soon abandoned both the narcotics and the novel.

Books are my vocation and avocation. Ever since my mother introduced me to the Honey Bunch series when I was five, I was hooked. They sure beat Dick, Sally, Jane and their insipidly named pets, Spot and Puff. A voracious reader from that age on, I soon ‘graduated’ to Nancy Drew and never looked back. The year I was ten I read “The Catcher in the Rye” and “True Grit,” both probably too gritty for a ten-year-old, but there was no turning back.

The only time my mom ever censored my choice of reading materials was when I was in 7th grade. The Detroit Free Press was serializing excerpts from “Sybil,” the story of a woman diagnosed with multiple personalities. One morning the newspaper was missing. My mom explained she threw it away. That day’s installment contained graphic descriptions of abuse Sybil suffered as a child at the hands of her own mother. Naturally I dug the paper out of the trash and read it.

And I’ve regretted doing so to this day.

Over the years, I’ve belonged to four book clubs in three states and read countless tomes crisscrossing genres. About a week ago someone posted a question on the West Virginia Writers, Inc. Facebook wall asking people their favorite authors. Nearly a week later the thread is still going strong. I responded with just a smattering of my favorite books and authors.

And I’m constantly discovering new favorites.

But also over the years something alarming has happened. Some of the joy went out of reading—and writing. Granted, I write to earn money but also because it’s akin to a calling with me. That’s a part of writing I never talk about except to say I knew from elementary school on I wanted to be a writer and have never really veered from that path.

In the dead of winter of this year, my mom and I had a heart-to-heart talk. We both wanted to make writing fun again. And so we have.

That decision opened the floodgates of reading joy. I’m no longer approaching every book I pick up as a ‘textbook,’ wondering if I should try something new, stretch my skills, stick to tried and true, the list is endless. I’m not saying I won’t do any of those things, but for now I’m at peace writing in the voice my mom and I do best together. And ideas for exploring future projects ‘out of my comfort zone’ are already scribbled in a notebook.

This summer, ‘thanks’ to foot surgery, I find myself with lots of reading time and no maternity clothes in sight. So I’m devouring books the way I used to race through the adventures of Nancy and her pals Bess and George.

There are so many books I still want to read (and write) and I need to embrace my enforced stillness rather than railing against it.

Who knows? I may even spend a few hours revisiting “The Secret of the Old Clock,” or “Harriet the Spy” or Harry Potter or pick up Anne Tyler or Jonathan Franzen or Lynn Austin or—the list is endless.

And I, for one, feel like a kid whose just been let back into the candy store.

More summer fun! (Days 6-14)

Day 6-- June 8th:  Frisbee Fun

The reason I need to keep up with this 87 days of Summer thing more regularly than I have been is that the days all blur together and I forget what happens on the individual days.  On day 6, for example, I'm sure we did something besides play frisbee, but since I didn't take pictures, I no longer remember.  That's kind of sad.

But, I did take pictures of these two playing an impromptu game of frisbee while Chris and I got dinner going.  I'm constantly nagging Tom and Gordon to play together, work it out, include your brother, etc, so the fact that they decided to go outside and actually play together without parental prodding makes these pictures all the more priceless.  Plus, they look adorable.

Day 7-- June 9th:  Swimming

We had several stormy days during the first couple weeks in June, and this was one of them.  Luckily, we had buy-1-get-1-free tickets to the indoor Aquatic Center left over from Gordon's birthday party, so I took these boys swimming.  My kids are part fish and all three of them loved jumping around in the water.  I had quite the workout trying to hold onto little Neil-- he doesn't understand the concept of not being able to breathe while under water and tried to swim away from me every chance he could.  Little booger.  We were right to go swimming inside, though-- it hailed on us on our way home!

Day 8-- June 10th:  Backyard Yoga

I watched my sister Ann-Michelle's four children for three days during this week, and on Friday, it was finally warm enough to break out the pool.  The kids played outside for hours, ate lunch and had popsicles, then played some more.  I took a bunch of pictures, but this one is my favorite-- Tom leading his cousins in some yoga.  Namaste.

Day 9-- June 11th:  The Scottish Festival and Trilobites (pictures coming!)

We went to Utah to visit Grammuh and Grampuh, but like a moron, I forgot my camera.  Luckily, Gramm is a fabulous photographer and got all sorts of good ones from our day at Thanksgiving Point.  Some things I want to remember about our wonderful day:  Gordon falling in love with the bagpipe bands at the Scottish Festival (he informed us that he wants to play both the drums and the bagpipe when he grows up), tasty shortbread at one of the booths, the boys loving making trilobite molds just like a real paleontologist at the Museum of Ancient Life, and the huge and delicious sundaes at the little ice cream shop at Thanksgiving Point.  What a great day!

Day 10-- June 12th

Gordon got his face painted at the Scottish Festival and was so excited about it that he asked if he could paint his own face with watercolors after church on Sunday.  He's our own little Braveheart.

Day 11-- June 13th

The boys were invited to a friend's birthday party at a cool outdoor family fun park, and I took a picture of Tom climbing the rock wall with my phone.  It was cold and rainy (you can see how cloudy it is in the background), so we didn't get too spend too much time outside, but the boys still had a blast.  The Idaho Falls YMCA runs a rock climbing gym that I'm hoping to take the boys to sometime soon.  It seems like something we'd all enjoy.

Day 12-- June 14th

Another day where I'm not sure what we did.  All of my pictures are for digital scrapbooking stuff except this one of cute little Gordon.  Man, those eyelashes!  And sigh, that underbite...

Day 13-- June 15th:  Tee Ball

Gord is playing tee ball this summer with a fun group of boys in our area.  Most of them live within a few blocks or so, so every Monday and Wednesday, the boys have kind of a play date while the moms sit on the bleachers and visit.  It's really fun.  Go Yankees!

Day 14-- June 16th:  Sand Art

We watched my friend's son while she and her husband spent a weekend in New York (lucky ducks!!) and since it was another kind of gloomy day weather-wise, we decided to do some crafts.  After a fun filled lunch at the indoor playground at Arctic Circle (I had no idea they give you a free kid's cone when you stay for lunch-- sweet!), I took the boys to Wal-Mart and let them choose $10 worth of crafts.  After much deliberation (and me saying, "okay, it's time to choose" about twenty times), they finally decided on a sand art kit.  It was a little bit messy, but pretty fun, and the boys ended up with some cool art and father's day gifts.  Just what every dad wants!

Coming soon:  Fathers & Sons, more Tee Ball, the Backyard Science Fair, and more!  Summer is so fun!!

Mandy Harrell, Organ Donor, Tennessee, 2006

Mandy Harrell was a loving daughter, fiercely protective sister, and a faithful friend. A petite 18 year old with an unquenchable love for life, Mandy had just started college to fulfill her dream of being a special education teacher when she was killed in an accident on Labor Day of 2006. Shortly before the accident occurred, she called us and said she was having the “best day” of her life. Just a short time later, she went from the best day of her life on this Earth straight into the loving arms of her Heavenly Father. Having experienced firsthand the miracle of organ donation 12 years previously, when Mandy’s grandfather (Poppy) was given the gift of a heart and kidney from a 17 year old boy who died in an accident, our decision to donate Mandy’s organs and tissues was never in question. We had 9 additional years with Poppy after his transplant and knew the joy that comes for a family when they get the news that an organ is available for their loved one.

Our family will never be the same without Mandy’s bubbly personality and her beautiful smile. While our world was forever changed, so were the lives of the six people who received her organs. Her lungs went to a 54 year old woman from Ohio. We had the privilege of meeting her this summer, and she is so grateful for the gift of new life that Mandy provided. Mandy’s pancreas and one kidney went to a 43 year old man from Knoxville who lives near our home. He now lives his life free from the constraints of dialysis and no longer requiring insulin or diabetes medication of any kind. Four others, including a little boy who was 11 when he received Mandy’s heart, received the gift of life from Mandy and are alive today.

During her participation in America’s Junior Miss Scholarship Program in July of 2005, when asked to name the hypothetical Broadway play about her life, she proudly proclaimed “Life is Short and So Am I”. She explained that she had always tried to live life to its fullest while being true to the values she had been taught. A scholarship is given each year in Mandy’s memory to a college bound student at the high school she attended. Purple and green bracelets made by her friends after her death proclaim, “Life is Short” and her initials, a reminder to all that we are not promised tomorrow. This fall, the Central High School Cheerleading Squad, on which she served for 3 years, named the cheerleading platform in Mandy’s memory to ensure that she is forever remembered at her alma mater. Each time I tell her story as a volunteer for Tennessee Donor Services, her story teaches others of the importance of donation. We are grateful for the time we had with Mandy and so pleased and thankful that her last gifts have provided the opportunity for new life to so many others.

Heath Mason, Organ Donor, Columbus, Ohio,1974 -1996

Heath Mason
1974- 1996

Heath was a son, brother, husband, uncle, friend and student.  To me he was my brother.  When we were young he was what most younger brothers are supposed to be…a pest.  He loved to tease, spy and argue with me.  I always knew he was going to be strong, he played sports better than most, he was bigger and taller than most, he was outspoken, independent, brave and he was a leader.  He had a presence that was real; you always knew that he would tell it like it is.  He wasn’t concerned with what other people thought, he was confident and even sometimes a bit cocky. 

That is why on February 27th, 1996 when I got that horrific phone call from my dad that Heath was “gone” it seemed impossible. How could a boy so big, so strong, so brave be killed in a car.  He was the last person I could ever imagine getting hurt, I mean he had become in my eyes, my “Big, little brother”. A car couldn’t hurt him?  This must not be true…

It was.

The years after Heath’s death I came to realize he knew something that most of us don’t.  Sure, we’ve all heard it, read on Hallmark cards, “Life is Short, Live Life to the fullest, Everyday is a gift”….  In his short 21 years, he really lived, he hadreal friendships, he stood up for you, had your back always.  As a son Heath was close to his parents, he didn’t wait like most of us to do this when they get older, he spent time with them and wasn’t afraid to express how much he loved them. As a husband, yep that’s right a husband, Heath didn’t mess around and shy away from commitment like most boys his age, he knew what love was and wasn’t going to wait, he married the love of his life.  As an uncle he played ball with you and carried your pictures in his wallet and made sure you got the biggest stuffed bear when you were born.  As a student at OSU Heath took school seriously, so seriously he gave up baseball and was going to be an Architect. As a brother, 14 and 4 years younger than his siblings Heath was a friend, hung out with you, watched sports together, listened to music with you, saw movies together.  For me he also was a protector, like brothers are supposed to be (he had the best role model for this) he loved me fiercely and I knew it!

Heath Mason was also an Organ Donor.  His life was full and because of his generous spirit he was able to give that gift of life to someone else.  This is not something many 21 year olds even think about, but Heath did.  He knew he had a lot to share in this life and he didn’t waste a minute of it.

We honor him and walk together.

Mary Lee Cook Farlow

Mary Lee Cook Farlow, 90, of Irving, TX passed away Saturday, June 25, 2011 in Irving. Mary was born in Richie, MS on October 31, 1920 to Charles Augusta & Nanny Tulu (Windpigler) Cook. She was a telephone operator for AT&T for 42 years. Mary was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Clyde; brother Jake Cook; numerous nieces & nephews.
Survivors include her daughters, Jackie Oliver Woolery of Wister, OK, Jewell Ann Oliver Pierson of Poteau, OK; 8 grandchildren, Memory Lane Lee Monger, Lauren Lee Walker, Xan Lee, Shawn Lee, Meck Lee, Mary Lee, Keith Woolery, & Wayne Woolery; 8 great grandchildren; 5 great great grandchildren; sister, Eunice Cook Smith of Star, MS; brother, William Cook of Williams, MS; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.
Services were 10 am, Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at Ellis Chapel Church, Wister, OK with Rev. Jim Cook & Rev. Jack Covey officiating. Interment followed in Ellis Chapel Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Keith Wayne Woolery, Monty Lenington, Jordan Key, Glenn Kellar, Kenny Morgan, Brandon Mason. Honorary pallbearers were Harold Potter & Michael Halco. Evans & Miller Funeral Home, Poteau, OK

Reverend David Moltz, Transplant Recipient, Watertown, New Hork, 1946 - 2011

WATERTOWN, N.Y.  —  Rev. David Moltz (Deacon Moltz), 64, happily passed into God's Loving arms June 19, 2011 at Loretto in Syracuse, N.Y.

He was born June 24, 1946 the son of the late Albert J. and Loneita Isabelle (Boyce) Moltz. He graduated From Boonville Central School in 1964 and from Paul Smiths College in 1966.

Rev. Moltz had worked for the New York State Conservation Department- Forestry Aide, Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company- Time Study Methods Analyst, Jackson Furniture Company-Sales, Delivery, Prudential-Agent for life, health, disability, auto, homeowners and N.Y.S. registered rep. with securities, Barry Scott Agency- began as a local agency in Watertown of N.Y.S.'s largest and elite high risk auto insurance agency- With the outperformance of many of the 23 agencies throughout N.Y.S., was promoted to Regional Manager with the agencies in Watertown, Utica, Rome, Syracuse and North Syracuse.

Rev. Moltz became disabled in July of 1994 with kidney failure and received a transplanted kidney from 'Gregory', my donor with unconditional love of his parents, Kathy and Ted. I am not sure of the families last name but I believe it is "HEROES!"

He became Ordained Permanent Deacon October 1, 1988 for the Diocese of Ogdensburg with the impositions of hands and Bishop Staniscaus J. Brzana. He was assigned to Church of St. Peter-Lowville, Church of the Holy Family-Watertown, St Elizabeth Seton- Dexter and Immaculate Conception- Brownville.

Rev. Moltz' hobbies included hunting, fishing, snowshoeing, camping, target shooting-earning every medal of the N.R.A and the name 'Dead Eye Dave.' He also enjoyed classical and spiritual music, woodworking with a scroll saw, and was a close relative to Santa Claus, bringing St. Nick to Watertown, Fort Drum, NYS Fairgrounds and surrounding areas for several years. Numerous hospitals, schools, organizations, businesses and untold number of home visits made not only the children and adults in the thousands believe, but brought the bearded ole man to happy tears of joy. 'S.C.' thanks you.

Among the organizations he belonged to are: T.A.G. (Transplant Awareness Group) to promote organ donation, to support recipients and donor families., 3rd degree of Knights of Columbus: Council No. 7598, Brownville, 4th Degree of Knights of Columbus: Council No. 0699 Watertown, Society of St. Lawrence- members are permanent deacons of the Ogdensburg Diocese and Exempt member and past President of the Lowville Fire Dept.

Surviving are a brother and his wife Albert J. and Janet Moltz, Jr. (Boonville, N.Y., and Dunnellon, Fla.) a sister and her late husband Jean and Albert Bouchard (Chases Lake, N.Y.) a daughter and partner Zoe Proper, Ellie-Grandchildren Elden and Emmett (Syracuse, N.Y.) a son Christian (Watertown, N.Y.) grandchildren- Jayde, Talon and Kayli a daughter and son in law Juliana Prentiss, Lee(Ft. Jackson, S.C.) grandsons- Andre and Adonus, a son and his wife John-Paul Moltz, Heba (Syracuse, N.Y.) several nieces, nephews, cousins and treasured friends within the Church and Community.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Cross International.
Condolences and tributes may be made below:

Marking Time

This week, Norwegians celebrated Sankthansaften, or St. Hans Eve, on June 23. Also known as Jonsok, or "John's wake," the day was originally a pre-Christian celebration of midsummer, marked by feasting and dancing around bonfires. With the coming of Christianity in the 11th century, the day was rededicated to St. John the Baptist (aka St. Hans) and the church required attending mass on this day.

"If you weren't in church on saints' days, you were fined," says Kathleen Stokker, professor of Norwegian at Luther College, in a Viking magazine interview. "So it was important to know when they were."

Norwegians kept track of the days by using a calendar stick called a primstav. Each day was represented by a notch on the stick and the year was divided into two halves, a winter side and a summer side. Symbols were carved into the calendar as a reminder of important dates. For example, the symbol for St. Hans was an hourglass or the sun.

While medieval Norwegians embraced their newer Christian practices, they also hung on to their traditional folk culture and continued to celebrate Jonsok the night before with bonfires and dancing.

For more information on primstavs, including directions on how to make your own more modern version, check out the July issue of Viking magazine!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-58.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Signe Karin.

Pierucci's Store-Hiawatha,Utah- Victor & Emselmo Pierucci

Abe Day's Tent Home-- West Hiawatha 1910

Jeffrey Wayne Hedrick, Transplant Recipient, Donate Life Community Member, Canyon Lake, CA 1952 - 2011

Jeffrey Wayne Hedrick passed Saturday, June 25 at his home in Canyon Lake.

Jeff waited five years for a new liver, which he received in 2004

He finally received and was able to meet the parents of his donor. Hedrick was so moved by the experience that he quit his job in insurance and joined OneLegacy, the Los Angeles based organ procurement organization as hospital services coordinator for the Inland area.

"I am here only because of families like yours who said yes to donation at the worst times of your life," Hedrick said. "You are all heroes to us at OneLegacy."

Jeff was passionate to the mission of helping those on the transplant wait-list and will be missed by his family, friends and colleagues.

We welcome your tributes and condolences below

Veronica Nell (Carter) Hampton

God called Veronica home on June 25, 2011. She was a special joy to Him for 77 years while on this earth. She was born on April 4, 1934 to William and Evangeline (LeDoux)Carter. She grew up in Ponca City, OK, was "high point" girl on the basketball team and performed in theatre productions. She married Robert Hampton on June 6, 1957 while she was in nursing school and he was in medical school. They were married for 54 years. Veronica was a loving and giving person. She loved hats and wore many; Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader, an avid bicyclist, a Senior Olympian in basketball and cycling, a nurse, a quilter, a seamstress, camp counselor, and a lover of people. She simply loved being around people and making them laugh. She loved singing with her family and performing in CASC's theatrical productions; Bye Bye Birdie, Brigadoon, Music Man, Carousel, Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music. Her pinnacle theatrical role was Aunt Eller in Oklahoma, the musical. Her spunk and fun-loving spirit were special, but praising God through singing and being a faithful servant were infinitely precious. Though her mind, voice, and body became terribly fragile in late life, today she is raising the heavens with a new, perfect voice. Praise God for a life well lived.

Veronica was preceded in death by her parents, 3 brothers, and 4 sisters. She is survived by her husband, Robert L. Hampton, M.D., two sons Dan Hampton of Changsha, Hunan Province, China and Sam Hampton of Garland, Texas, one daughter, Debbie Hampton of Tulsa, OK and one brother, Bill Carter of Eufaula, OK. She also leaves many nieces, nephews, sisters-in-law, friends, and a loving church body who have been privileged to share in her caring, devoted, and antic-filled ways for many years. We will miss her.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 9th, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. at the Poteau Church of Christ, Hwy 112 North, Poteau, OK. Arrangements are under the direction of Evans and Miller Funeral Home, Poteau, OK.

Wanda Gail Gwin

Wanda G. Gwin, 75, of Bristow, OK (formerly of Keota, OK) passed away Friday, June 24, 2011 in Tulsa, OK. Wanda was born July 10, 1935 in Fannin County, TX to Delbert D. & Myrtie (Snow) Hargrove. She had 4 sisters & 1 brother. She graduated from Bennington, OK high school in May 1953. She married Joe W. Gwin on October 1, 1954. Wanda became a LPN in 1965, a RN in 1975, working at the Poteau Hospital. She was preceded in death by her husband Joe on March 31, 2000.

Survivors include her daughter, Susan Elaine Ladd of Bristow, OK; son, Jeffrey Alan Gwin of O’Fallon, IL; grandchildren, Chandra Gwin, Rose Anna Ladd, & John Ladd; sisters, Pat Pryor of Oklahoma City, OK, Jo Hamby of Dallas, TX

Services will be 10 am, Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at Evans Chapel of Memories, Poteau, OK with Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment will follow in Old Bokoshe Cemetery, Bokoshe, OK.

Wanda Jean Bowles

Wanda Jean Bowles, 49, of Fort Smith, AR passed away Thursday, June 23, 2011 in Ft. Smith. Wanda was born in Ft. Smith on November 17, 1961 to John & Dorothy June (Smith) McLaughlin. She was a para-legal.

Survivors include her sons, Alex Edward Bowles of Ft. Smith, AR, Eric Lee Bowles of Fayetteville, AR; 7 sisters, Ella Gray of Pocola, OK, Debbie McHugh of Ft. Smith, AR, Kathy McBride of Pocola, OK, Lura Hartsfield of Bonanza, AR, Jennifer Turner of San Antonio, TX, Carole Raache of Ft. Smith, AR, Sue Clark of Natural Dam, AR; brother, Hugh McLaughlin; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will be 2 pm, Monday, June 27, 2011 at Life in Christ Church – Rock Island, OK with Rev. Danny Kennedy officiating. Burial will be in White Bluff Cemetery, Bonanza, AR Pallbearers will be Alex Bowles, Eric Bowles, Cody Gray, Michael McBride, Jason McBride, & Brandon White.

Rebecca "Becki" Lynn Cheshier Mitchell

Rebecca “Becki” Lynn Cheshier Mitchell, 54 of Pocola, OK passed away Wednesday, June 22, 2011 in Fort Smith, AR. Rebecca was born January 12, 1957 in Oklahoma City, OK to Carl & Barbara L. (Brimm) Cheshier. She was in property management for Meadows Construction Company at Forest Oaks Apartments in Greenwood, AR. Rebecca was preceded in death by one son, Charles Christopher Chilcoat.

Survivors include her daughter, Staci & husband, Bryan Clinkscales of Springdale, AR; parents, Carl & Barbara Cheshier of Pocola, OK; 2 grandchildren, Hannah & Zane; 2 brothers, Phil Cheshier of Ft. Smith, AR, Ron & wife Tammy Brown of Conway, AR; paternal grandmother, Pauline Easlon of Paris, TX; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will be 11 am, Saturday, June 25, 2011 at Community Free Will Baptist Church in Pocola, OK with Rev. Rick Duncan & Rev. Fred Warner officiating. Interment will be 4 pm, Saturday in Prague Cemetery, Prague, OK. Pallbearers will be Doug Bice, Larry Combs, Dee Brackett, Joey Butler, Benny Pixley & Jody Kimble.

Contributions may be made to the Community Free Will Baptist Church

The family will be at the funeral home in Pocola from 6-8 pm. Friday evening to visit with relatives & friends.

Casey Dawn Hasting, Organ Donor, 2007, Orange, Texas

Casey was a brilliant spot of light in the lives of all that knew her. Her face always carried a smile and her mood always up beat. Though her passion was cheerleading, she excelled academically as well as athletically lettering in cross-county her freshman year and graduating Magna Cum Laude from Bridge City High in 2006. With her sights set on Forensic Psychology, she was finishing her second semester at Lamar University. During this same time she was chosen to be a cheerleader for the Southeast Texas Arena semi-pro football team the Demons. She was nineteen.

Casey's heart, kidneys and pancreas were transplanted.

Life in the Slow Lane

First some housekeeping: Recently I returned from my 9th WVWriters, Inc. conference. The event is held annually at Cedar Lakes in Ripley, West Virginia. Every year I come home saying “That was the best conference ever.”

This year was no exception. It really was the best conference ever.

Being around like-minded people is energizing, refilling the creative well. And believe me, I never use phrases like that. I’m a journeyman (woman) writer, not a weaver of sumptuous words.

Seeing dear old friends and making new ones is priceless. I totally want to adopt the amazing couple, Doug and Telisha Williams, who entertained Saturday night with their own brand of Americana music. Everyone in the universe should check them out.

And instead of breaking down weeping when it came time to leave, I either avoided good-byes or did my best Mount Rushmore impression when faced with the partings.

It worked.

I remained dry-eyed all the way home to the prairie, 1,100 miles away.

Inside I was a soggy, blubbering mess, but all things are made sweeter by being laced with bittersweet.

One day after returning, I had foot surgery -- a tendon sheath sliced (or something like that) and toes pinned (my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the nurses, the staff, the amazing PT who sent me to the surgeon… all rock), and here I sit. I’m ‘non-weight bearing’ for two weeks, hobbling horribly around on crutches. Granted, the end result will be less pain and much better mobility. My advanced years goal is to still be able to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park in my 80s, so more mobility is all good.

In the meantime… here I sit.

I always blame my husband’s Viking lineage for our older son’s wanderlust, but I too bear responsibility for Erik’s boundless energy. (As a holding on and letting go aside, said son is heading to S. Korea this fall for another study abroad program marking his third trip overseas.) I’ve written this before: When all the toddlers in our Arizona playgroup were happily rolling trucks in the sandbox and swinging on a tire swing, Erik was heading for the Mexican border.

When I was four my parents took my little sister and me to the Detroit Zoo to see a Tasmanian Devil all the way from Australia. I wouldn’t say I’ve exactly been a whirling dervish my whole life, but I don’t like to be still. If I didn’t like to eat so much and have peasant forebears, I’d probably be thin.

Being fairly immobile has been… challenging. That no one in my family has knocked me over the head and buried me in the backyard is a testament to their fortitude. My family deserves kudos.

During several scary tornado warnings the other evening my mother put a chair in the hall (which she had determined was the safest spot upstairs) for me and refused to go down to the lower level to our ‘storm shelter.’ I haven’t been this touched since she allowed me (the daughter of a public school administrator) to attend a Catholic high school when I was miserable at the public high school in the town we moved to right before my junior year.

In addition, my younger son is being nice enough to help me overcome my tendency to resort to not-so-nice language when I get frustrated. (There’s a financial incentive in it for him). And my husband is not bonking me over the head with my crutches when I get uber frustrated that the simplest tasks elude me.

My friends have also rallied. I have been touched by the gestures of those both near and far. Calls, visits, e-mails, texts, Facebook messages have inundated my heart. An arrangement of lilies worthy of a royal wedding grace my living room, thanks to my friend Ann Snider, the mother of four… who is holding on and letting go herself as her oldest son is on his LDS mission trip for two years. She is courageous indeed.

Another beautiful arrangement sits on my buffet, a gift from my longtime friend Susan Case. Susan coaxed me though Erik’s first trip abroad to Germany when he was only in high school. Her daughter had been a foreign exchange student several years previous.

Too numerous to mention are my many other supportive friends. It takes a lot to spend time, in person or virtually, with a cranky woman on crutches!

This morning I escaped for coffee with my exercise pals (that was my exercise!) and learned the sister-in-law of one of the women just fell off a horse when the saddle loosened. Broken ribs and a punctured lung resulted. Once again, I’m reminded to quit whining and remember how fortunate I am. I’m slated to be off crutches (I hope!) in another week and plan to have more mobility when I can stomp around in my Herman Munster boot.

In the meantime, maybe it’s time to enjoy life in the slow lane?

Acme Cleaning Service got cleaned up. Oh, the irony!

Like I needed any more proof Absolute Zero United is filled with self-loathing closet pedophiles who cannot be honest about their conditions.

For quite a few years, Acme Cleaning Services has claimed to "hijack" sites they claimed were "pro-pedophile" (which, in reality, were most likely sites created by AZU members for the sole purpose of claiming they were outing pedophiles. After all, Tsand once impersonated Stitches 77 and created two blogs, one of which was "hijacked" by Llort and Rez). Well today it looks like Acme Cleaning Services blog was itself cleaned out and the blog owner called a "pedophile." No honor among thieves?

Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Organ Donor, Ohio, 2008

As a trailblazer in politics, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones was no stranger to making a difference in the state of Ohio. She was Ohio’s first African-American woman elected to Congress dedicating her life to public service by helping others. Following her death last August, it was no surprise that she was a registered organ and tissue donor and her legacy of life would continue through organ and tissue donation.

Stephanie was elected to Congress by her Northeast Ohio constituents. In the three months following her death, there was a dramatic increase in the number of people in Northeast Ohio and statewide registering online to be organ and tissue donors. Registrations rates soared 500 percent and reached an all-time high in October 2008. Since her death the total of online registrants is three times what it was over the same period one year ago.

“Over the past eight months, there has been a ‘Stephanie Effect’ throughout the state of Ohio and in particular Northeast Ohio with the number of people becoming registered organ and tissue donors,” said Gordon Bowen, Chief Executive Officer of Lifebanc, the organ and tissue recovery organization in Northeast Ohio. “Ohioans are following Stephanie’s example to help save lives.”

“Somebody of her stature, she always had the power to make a difference in people’s lives.” That is just one of many countless stories Lifebanc has heard in the surrounding communities about the Congresswoman. In churches, at health fairs and in hospitals, people have told Lifebanc they have become registered donors after seeing how Stephanie Tubbs Jones saved lives. A local donor family stated they chose to donate their loved ones organs because that is what Stephanie did.

Barbara Walker, the sister of Stephanie Tubbs Jones, said she was compelled to become an organ donor in the wake of her sister’s example. The increase in online registrants “really blew my mind,” said Walker. “I know people loved her. Stephanie was such a big part of a lot of people’s lives. But when you see something like this, it really is a testament.”

On August 20, 2008, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones died after suffering a brain aneurysm. Lifebanc has worked closely with the Tubbs Jones family making every effort so that the Congresswoman’s last wish to be an organ and tissue donor and give the Gift of Life to others was realized.

“I now have a new mission,” said Barbara Walker, “after seeing the powerful effects of donation, I am on board to help in any way I can.” On April 30, 2009, the inaugural Lifebanc Legacy of Life award was presented to the family of the late Congresswoman at Lifebanc’s Legacy of Life Luncheon. The award was created to honor heroes who have educated the public about organ and tissue donation and been a catalyst for the increase in the number of individuals designating their wishes as registered organ and tissue donors. “My mom has won countless awards but this one means so much,” said Mervyn Jones II, Stephanie’s son. “It’s not just about my mother; it’s about all the lives that are being saved through organ and tissue donation.”

“She was just the type of person who basically would do whatever she could for anybody,” Walker said. And her legacy will live on through the Gift of Life.

Kayla Bergerson, Organ Donor, Minnesota, 1991 - 2008

When Kayla received her driver’s license at the age of 16 she checked the box to register as an organ and tissue donor. Sadly, that wish was fulfilled much too soon.

In November of 2008 Kayla and her sister, Katie, were on their way to meet their parents and older brother Kyle for dinner when they were struck by another vehicle. Both girls were severely injured and, tragically, Kayla did not survive her injuries. She was only 17 years old.

Kayla’s parents remembered her decision to be an organ and tissue donor from a brief conversation they had when she passed the driver’s exam and they graciously honored her decision. Because Kayla was a minor, it was up to her parents to approve her decision. “It doesn’t make me any less sad,” shares her mom, Sue. “I still miss her so much, but it’s one of the positives we look at.”

Kayla’s organs saved the lives of four people and her gifts of tissue donation will help dozens more. The shy honor roll student who was described by her friends and cousins as “goofy” with a “great sense of humor” has left an incredible legacy. She played the flute, loved to dance, draw, listen to music and travel with her family.

Joshua Abbott, Transplant Recipient & Organ Donor , Florida, 1976 -2006

Joshua Abbott was a lung transplant recipient who championed the cause of organ and tissue donation. To the legislature, he became the face of all those needing transplants.

Josh became an organ transplant recipient at age 29 and an organ donor at age 30. He died in 2006, 11 months after receiving a double lung transplant due to complications from an illness. Josh had been critically ill for many years and nearly died before his transplant. If his wait for a transplant had been shorter, it is possible he would be alive and well today. 

Josh’s parents are champions for the cause of organ and tissue donation and work diligently to inform others about the desperate need for life saving transplants.

Cameron Greenwood, Organ & Tissue Donor , 2010

In December 2010, Cameron Greenwood died due to complications from diabetes, but even after his death, he was able to help approximately 53 more people as an organ and issue donor.

Greenwood’s death in December 2010 was unexpected.

Five years before, Greenwood was diagnosed with diabetes. Smith said her son was on two types of insulin four times a day, but that never slowed him down. He met his wife, Tawny, just before being diagnosed. The couple married in 2007 and welcomed their son Elijah shortly thereafter. After graduating from Forsyth High School, Greenwood moved his family to Tulsa, Okla., where he attended Victory Bible Institute. After one year in Tulsa, the couple discovered they were about to have another child and moved back to the Branson area.

On Nov. 7, their daughter Faith was born.

Less than a month later on Dec. 4, Greenwood thought he was battling the flu, but later found out it was diabetic ketoacidosis. On Dec. 6, he went into cardiac arrest and died a day later.

Eight months before, though, he got a new driver’s license and it was at that time, he indicated on the back of the license that he wanted to be a donor.

His heart and both kidneys were in perfect condition and quickly went to three other people. Through tissue and bone donation, he also changed the lives of up to 50 other people, according to Smith.

“My son spent his life trying to make an impact on other’s lives and now he has become a hero,” Smith said. “That is the reason for the NASCAR race car in Cameron’s name, to raise awareness about the personal side of organ donation.”

In an effort to keep her son’s memory alive, Stacey Smith and her family want to continue supporting the organ donor organization, Donate Life America, in a not-so-conventional way. Through the end of August, people can go online and vote for a NASCAR design in memory of Greenwood.

“When the contest is over, the panel of judges from NASCAR will take the top 10 cars and chose one that will win,” said Smith. “If Cameron’s car wins, they will make that car for the foundation.”

She said the car will be used to promote Donate Life America, something her son, a Forsyth High School graduate, cared deeply about.

“He spent his whole life trying to save other people,” she said.

Whether the car is picked or not, the family will not see any monetary gain. NASCAR will send the family to the race to see it on the track.

“What we are trying to do in Cameron’s memory is show that donor are heroes,” Smith said

Smith is simply asking for people’s help by voting for her son’s car daily.

To vote, visit sponsafier.com and click on gallery. Cameron Greenwood’s car is No. 18. To vote, simply click on the word “vote.”

According to Smith, while the website currently indicates voting is closed on the Cameron Greenwood car, it is expected to re-open in October.

Aria MacDonald, Transplant Recipient, Auckland, New Zealand, 2006 - 2011

Aria MacDonald, the five-year-old girl who endured two liver, kidney, pancreas and small bowel transplants to fight a rare condition, has died in hospital.

Aria, from Auckland, received the transplants at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha in February and May last year but was then diagnosed with post-transplant cancer.

She suffered infection after infection as she tried to recover.

Mother Anita MacDonald announced the news on the family's blog. ''Her [Aria's] five years of life has been one of hardships, struggles, pain, suffering and sorrow; yet we know that she has gone to a place where she need not be bothered by these things any longer.''

She was born with a rare condition that stopped her digesting food.

Her cancer - a rare complication of organ transplants - was caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which also causes glandular fever.

Aria turned five two weeks ago, and the family had hoped to take her to Disney World to celebrate, but she was too ill.

"For I know the plans I had for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11"

Gina Morri, Organ Donor, Little Canada, Minnesota 1995-2011

Gina Morri was jogging with her gymnastics team when she was struck in Little Canada.

Morri was eulogized as a caring, upbeat person who was supportive of her teammates, as well as a talented gymnast.

Yet, through deeply saddened by her death, students said the loss has brought them closer.

Morri's death was able to help save the life of a man at Mayo Clinic through organ donation.

Benjamin Kopp, Organ Donor, 1988 -2009

Cpl. Benjamin Kopp gave his life. And then he saved one. An Army Ranger who had been on his third tour of duty, Kopp was buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery. Sadly, it's a familiar story: a young man dead before his time, shot by unnamed enemies on the other side of the world. On July 10, his unit attacked a Taliban safe haven in Helmand province, according to the 75th Ranger Regiment. The fight lasted several hours, resulting in the deaths of more than 10 Taliban fighters, but Kopp was shot in the leg.

He was flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany before being transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District.

But this time, there was a renewed life, too. Kopp wanted to be an organ donor. And after he died, his heart was transplanted into a family member's friend who had a rare form of congenital heart disease. In addition to his heart, doctors removed his kidneys, pancreas and liver for transplant.

Chad Wieneke, Organ Donor, South Dakota, -2008

September 24, 2008, dawned bright and clear. Chad Wieneke, son of Glenn and Jackie Wieneke of Lismore, started his workday at Pace Manufacturing in Brandon, South Dakota. Not long into the morning, Chad suffered a heart attack that would prove to be fatal. He was just thirty-five years old.

Glenn and Jackie received a telephone call that day, informing them that Chad had been rushed to a hospital in Sioux Falls. The couple rushed to their son’s side. There was nothing more the doctors could do for Chad. It was then that members from LifeSource approached the family, asking about the possibility of donating Chad’s organs. “Chad had renewed his driver’s license about a month prior to his death. At the time, he told me that he had checked the box that asked for consent to be an organ donor,” says Jackie, “I had not remembered that until that day in the hospital. I knew it was his wish, but [I thought] ‘did he want to do it? did he know he would be called on so soon’?” The members of LifeSource spoke to the family for a long time that day. “I wanted them to treat him with respect,” recalls Jackie. Although bereft with grief, the family felt strongly about honoring the decision Chad had made a month earlier when he indicated his desire to “donate organs, tissues, and eyes to save or enhance someone’s life through transplantation.”

As of January 2011, ten people had benefited from Chad’s gracious gifts. Seven people, ranging in age from 17 to 67, have been recipients of bone and connective tissue, utilizing a total of 23 tissue grafts. These recipients were from the following states: Minnesota, California, Texas, Ohio, New Jersey and North Carolina. Three more people, a woman (age 58) and two men (one age 72, the other age 76), received femoral and saphenous vein grafts. The Wienekes received a letter from LifeSource that stated, “Chad’s gift of tissue donation has made a tremendous difference not only in the life of the individuals who received that gift, but also in the lives of the recipient’s friends and family. Chad lives on in a legacy of kindness because of his gift.” Jackie says, “It’s so nice to know that Chad, who had a big heart, has continued to help people long after his death.”

Chad was always a loving, caring person, according to his friends and family. “He loved to help people, to teach, to share his time,” says Jackie, “he loved to teach youngsters how to hunt and fish.” Friends since they were “old enough to walk,” Todd Loosbrock remembers that Chad had always had a great capacity for caring. “The donor thing doesn’t surprise me at all,” says Loosbrock, “Chad was always very aware of the emotional side of people – he genuinely cared about others.“

Scott Nath, another long-time friend of Chad’s, was with him the night before he died. Nath says, “Chad would have done anything to help anyone out – he was always thinking of other people. He would not have hesitated to be a donor – he would have said: ‘why wouldn’t someone become a donor’?” On the evening before his death, Chad told Scott that he was going to see his twenty one-month old son, Joshua. “Chad was a very good father,” says Nath, “his heart and soul were into his son.” Plans were in place for Chad to marry Joshua’s mother in October of that year.

Chad himself had some prophetic words for life, written during his sophomore year of high school, where he was active in football, basketball and baseball. In a poem written for an assignment in Mrs. Kruger’s English Class (dated May 2, 1989), Chad’s wrote: “Life” ~ The world is a big stadium of life, as we play the game. We are put up against many challenges - some are easy, some we win, some we lose.” Chad might have lost his life, but he came out winning as he helped others regain theirs.

David deSabla Jr., Organ Donor, Maryland 1981- 2010

In February 2010, David deSabla Jr. had gone skiing with friends in Garrett County. The 29-year-old hurt his knee in a fall and later stopped breathing.

He was an organ donor and DeHaven later learned that his liver, heart and kidney had been transplanted into three different men. His donation, which helped provide a new heart for Baltimore resident Michael Yater, is one of 30 stories that will be used during the month of April in an effort to encourage organ donation.

"He was just a really good guy and it was one of those horrible, tragic, freak things that happen," said DeHaven, of Annapolis. "We're just the kind of people where (organ donation) wasn't even something we thought about; it was just what you do."

Friends and relatives described deSabla as having the "heart of a lion." At his memorial service, friends told about how he took a homeless man into 7-Eleven and told him to pick out anything he needed, and how he bought diamond earrings for his friends' newborn daughters. He was the oldest of four and in 2007, deSabla earned a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Alexa Kersting, Waiting for a Transplant, 1990 - 2004

Across the country Alexa has become the face of those who are waiting.

Alexa Kersting of West Fargo died July 15, 2004 at the age of 14 while awaiting a double lung transplant.

Alexa’s parents originally undertook this project as a means to express their grief and to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation. It is "Alexa's Hope" that one day soon there will be an end to people dying on the waiting list, because the answer to organ donation will always be, "Yes!"

Alexa’s parents, Monica and Loren, began creating awareness by telling their personal story at the local, regional, state and national levels to both medical communities and the general public. While stories from donor families and grateful recipients were commonly shared, no one had ever shared the story about what it was like to be waiting and most of all, to have waited and lost.

Another avenue for creating awareness is through Monica's watercolor art, with future plans to expand, using inspiring art in many forms for awareness and fundraising.

Alexa’s Hope is dedicated to providing accurate, easily accessible information to those families whose loved ones have been added to the almost 100,000 people waiting for organs.

In addition to Monica and Loren’s speaking engagements and the sale of Monica’s art, Alexa’s Hope will be providing information to parents whose children are awaiting transplants.

Monica and Loren know first hand what it is like to be told that the only way your child can go on living is with a transplant. They also know that parents’ primary responsibility when hearing this news is to care for the child and follow through with medical appointments. There is little or no time for research and the information out there is overwhelming.

Alexa's Hope: Donate Life Project
Alexa Kersting died July 15th, 2004 at the age of fourteen, while awaiting a double lung transplant. Her mother, Monica, began creating art to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation and as a means to express her grief. The artwork below is available as both prints and greeting cards from fargostuff.com (click here).

Tony Balboa, Alice, Texas, Organ Donor, 1990 - 2011

Tony loved to ride his bicycle. But, like nearly everything else, he did it for a reason bigger than himself.
The ride 11 days ago, May 25, was one of his last training rides before the 60 mile Race Against Hunger in Mission. Proceeds benefitted a Rio Grande Valley food bank.
It was the first event where he would test his new $2,000 racing bike.
It seems too coincidental, too fateful, too tragic to say that Tony Balboa fulfilled a mission on this narrow stretch of farm road among the grain fields and brushy pastures outside Alice.

But this is where it happened. Here, 11 days ago, at 5:36 p.m., as the melty blacktop and its faded yellow stripes emitted heat waves that blurred the brown sorghum and blue sky into an impression of themselves.

"It's too hot," Tony's mother, Patty, told him before he left for his bike ride. "Stay home and have dinner with us."

They would fry the redfish his grandfather caught.

"It's fine," Tony protested. "I'll be back in an hour."

It was 94 degrees.

"Always remember," he said, "that if I'm in an accident, you should donate my organs."

He tightened his helmet. He clipped his shoes into his pedals. He rode.
Tony loved to study biology and medicine. Like nearly everything else, he did it for a reason bigger than himself.

His father got out of the hospital in December just in time to watch him graduate with honors from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. He finished a semester early. This surprised no one.

And while Tony spent hours in books, his mind, heart and body found time to go everywhere.

To his nephew's Cub Scout troop, spending a weekend helping them earn their forestry badges.

To build houses with Habitat for Humanity.

To Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Sunday mornings at 6:30, to serve breakfast to the parishioners.

Luis Lane, grand knight for the San Antonio council of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic service fraternity, worked those mornings beside Tony, cutting vegetables, scrambling eggs and rolling tacos.

"It sounds provincial," Lane said, "but if I had a daughter, he would be the kind of guy I would have loved for a son-in-law."

Tony met his girlfriend, Andrea Gonzalez of Harlingen, one night in Corpus Christi. A biomedicine student, she attended Texas A&M-Kingsville.

Tony found a way to combine his love of Andrea, his love of medicine and his love for his family and his community so that no thing was separate from the others.

On dates, he couldn't walk past a moth or a caterpillar without collecting it for his entomology studies. And dates with Andrea more often than not turned into dates with his parents and hers. They couldn't believe he had coaxed their shy daughter from her shell, let alone stolen her heart.

He had won over the nurses, too, at Christus Spohn Hospital Kleberg in Kingsville.

There, he shadowed Dr. Gilberto Sosa, a family practice physician who made his rounds at the hospital on weekends. For three months, Tony came, sharply dressed, eager to learn, cordial with the patients.

Sosa asked Tony to run the practice in Kingsville when he retired. Tony just smiled. He couldn't say no, but his heart was in Alice, not Kingsville. He wanted to open his own practice and help people back home who couldn't afford health care.

On the rounds with Dr. Sosa, Tony saw the failures: the livers, kidneys and hearts for which there was no cure.

"We talked about the hardships in the profession and raising a family and how we deal with death," Sosa said. "This wasn't a common topic. But when I would talk about some people dying, one time he brought it up: He said, 'That's what I would do if I died. I would like my organs donated to help other people.'"

"It's good," Tony told Dr. Sosa, "because your life goes on."