Anne Marie had a true love for life, her family and a true passion for her work. As a Speech Language Pathologist at our local elementary school, she made a huge impact on the lives of so many children and those who worked with her. Her sense of humor and silly jokes with the kids made her one of the students’ favorite teachers. So, it’s no surprise that many of them would go out of their way to pop into her room and greet her with a “Good Morning” each day. The entire school community respected and looked up to her for her leadership in the classroom and her commitment as a representative for the teacher’s union.
It was also well-known that Anne Marie loved her family without measure. Her husband of 24 years and her son were the light of her life. Life was good “under the stars” for Anne Marie and her family. She also cherished the time with her many friends, both new and life-long, who knew they could count on her day or night.
So, when we all had to face her unexpected loss at the young age of 52, it was a devasting blow. No one is every fully prepared to hear those words … those words you know will change your life forever.
But, because Anne Marie was the type of person who had a plan for everything, her husband and her son knew in that moment, while still reeling from the shock of her loss, what she would have wanted. Her last selfless act was to make sure that she could change the life of someone else. They knew organ donation would have been her last wish.
She was an advocate for organ donation, and in her death, was able to change the lives of five people. She would be humbled to know that her gift of life to others, also raised awareness of organ donation. Many people responded to the call to become an organ donor in her memory.
We walk as Team Cosmos to pay homage to Anne Marie’s passion for a good Cosmo and for sharing good food and good times with her close friends and family. We will continue to spread the word for organ donation in Anne Marie’s name.
My name is Dave Gray and I am ALIVE today because of my donor hero. I walk in honor of my heart donor. I received a heart transplant in August 2016. Because of my donor I was able to hold my new born granddaughter, celebrate my 39th wedding anniversary and reach a birthday milestone of 60 this past December. My family and I are eternally grateful for this new lease on life.
I wake up every day with my heart donor on my mind. I now spend my days volunteering to spread awareness about organ and tissue donation.
Spreading the word that living donation is an option is important to us. This is our story.
Krystal met Gail’s daughter, Faith, in May of 2014. That summer they took an architectural program together and became fast friends. Over the next few years they became very close and Krystal spent a lot of time with Faith and her mother Gail. Krystal started calling Gail her second mom.
In December of 2014 Gail started to feel sick. She felt as though she couldn’t breathe. A series of testing began and she saw several doctors. Gail was so ill she had to stop working in July 2015. She struggled, still waiting for a diagnosis. In 2016 she had a liver biopsy and was told she had stage 4 liver disease. She was placed on the transplant list. Gail continued to get sicker, her brain filled up with fluid. Her short term memory failed her. In October 2016 Gail was placed on the liver transplant waiting list. She was told the likelihood of getting a liver was slim- she just wasn’t sick enough. Her daughter Faith told Krystal that living donation was a viable option however no one in the family was a match for Gail. Krystal went home that day and seriously considered donating 60% of her liver to Gail. She first spoke to her husband who gave his blessing, then her mother and father who were in favor too. She then reached out to her 3 brothers to speak with them about being a living donor. Her brother Steven replied “Greater love has no one than a man who lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13. This, to Krystal, was a clear sign that she would be Gail’s donor. She broke the news to Faith that she wanted to be her mom’s liver donor. Krystal underwent testing in May, 2018 to see if she was a match. She was a match! The transplant surgery was on September, 25, 2018 and was a success!
Gail and Krystal are doing well after the surgery. They walk because they want to raise awareness about living donation and the need for donors in NY. Krystal says that the short amount of recovery time is nothing compared to giving someone an extension on their life. Krystal and Gail have created a bond that will last an eternity and lovingly refer to one another as their liver twin.
The Donate Life Legacy Walk was started by Tonya Pelligrini Lawrence in 2002 to honor her dear friend, Kristen LaVoy, who received a kidney transplant. Kristen struggled to fight an auto immune kidney disease for 15 years before she lost her battle.This event was created to recognize the gifts of life given by donors, celebrate donor recipients and honor donor families who have said yes to donation.
In partnership with KLavoy originators, CDT agreed to assume management responsibility of the Walk & 5K and rebrand it as a CDT event. The goal is to create a community wide event where we can honor all of our donors and their families. Celebrate all of the organ recipients and spread awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation.
The Center for Donation & Transplant (CDT) was established in 1972 and is one of 58 federally designated non-profit organ procurement organizations in the United States. CDT is governed by a Board of Directors and managed by an Executive Director. CDT is a member of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which houses the national computer system of patients waiting for transplants, and is also an accredited member of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO).
CDT serves a total of 30 counties in New York and Vermont, serving a population of 3 million people and in partnership with 44 hospitals, CDT ensures that the option of donation is offered to families in an informative and compassionate manner, conducts educational outreach in communities throughout its service area to raise awareness of the New York State Donate Life Organ and Tissue Registry, and provides long-term support and comfort to families and hospital personnel involved in the donation process.