Monday, March 10, 2008

Organ donation group holds remembrance ceremony

This is a wonderful example of the many ceremonies held each year throughout the U.S. and Canada to honor our donors and donor families.

From The Press-Enterprise in California:
LOMA LINDA - Tony Charron loved to read and ride his bike. He was a Weird Al Yankovic fan.

Then came an October 1997 car crash on Van Buren Boulevard in Riverside.

"At one moment, my children were having a burping contest," Tony's mother, Pam Charron, of Grand Terrace, said. "The next moment we were experiencing the impact of a truck ... and my children were silent."

Tony didn't survive the collision. He was 10. But his legacy was honored Sunday. His mother donated his organs and saved four other lives.

Charron's mother was among 300 donor family members on hand Sunday as part of OneLegacy's annual Fields of Gold remembrance ceremony.

The event -- filled with tears but also cheers and applause -- was the fourth held this month across Southern California. It aims to honor people who had family members donate organs and tissue after they die.

"I am proud of my son and what he was able to accomplish even in his death," Charron said, urging those in attendance to reach out to those sharing similar experiences.

"It is very important for me to keep Tony's memory alive."

OneLegacy promotes organ and tissue donation in Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Orange, Kern, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. It's the largest nonprofit federally designated organ procurement organization in the nation.

Currently more than 97,000 people are on the national organ transplant waiting list, including 8,000 in the seven-county Southern California region.

Jeff Hedrick of Canyon Lakes spent five years waiting for a new liver. 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 now works as OneLegacy's 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."

In addition to the remembrance ceremony, OneLegacy also hosts an annual run at Cal State Fullerton in April, which is National Donate Life Month.

The organization also enters a float each January in the Rose Parade to build awareness for organ donation. This year's float featured hot-air balloons with pictures of organ donors made from flowers.

Daniel Ronco, 51, of Moreno Valley, rode on the float this year. He received a second kidney transplant in 1999.

"It was a miracle," he said during a break in the OneLegacy event Sunday.

"I broke down in tears," Ronco said, recalling New Year's Day when he arrived for the parade. "The ride on the float was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. It made my donor parents very happy."

Organ Donors

For more information on OneLegacy and organ donation in the Inland area, go to

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance another 50 through tissue donation

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