Team Zoe – Dash for Donation

By Kimberly Loy, donor mom

Our daughter Zoe was born May 6, 2013. She was warmly welcomed into our family and her big brother Parker was so excited! She was a sweet and healthy baby, an all-around girly girl. Most of the time she wore flowers in her hair and dresses. She loved to be swaddled and cuddle by her family and take trips to the zoo.

Very sadly, Zoe passed when she was just six-weeks old due to SIDS. As my husband and I were trying to wrap our minds around the fact our daughter had just been declared brain dead, a representative from Lifeline of Ohio approached us with the opportunity of donation. They expressed their deep sympathy and asked if we would consider donating Zoe’s tissues to heal and save other children.

Since this is something we had never discussed, we asked for a moment to decide – there was so much going on and we were blind with grief. After my husband and I spoke, we came to the conclusion – yes, we wanted Zoe to be a donor. We felt if our six-week week old could donate to save others, we should take that opportunity.

Weeks after Zoe’s passing we received a letter outlining what she was able to donate – her heart valves, knee and shoulder tissues. Knowing our sweet baby is helping to heal dozens of others and knowing a piece of her is living on is amazing. She is our hero.

To celebrate Zoe’s short life, we always visit the zoo on her birthday. It gives us time as a family to celebrate her in one of her favorite places. And this year, we are taking part in the Dash for Donation on “Team Zoe.” We are so proud of her and look forward to celebrating her short, but BIG, life with thousands of others. We encourage all to not only sign up to be a registered organ, eye and tissue donor, but to also get involved and take part in the Dash for Donation. Help us to give hope to those waiting for their second chance at life, recipients and donor families.


Carletta’s Crusaders – Dash for Donation

By VaNeesha Barlow, recipient daughter

My mom, Carletta, loved fiercely, was funny and caring. She was “all-American” as my sisters and I would call her; she loved to eat hamburgers, watch fireworks on the Fourth of July and reveled in each and every holiday. She was the backbone of our family.

At age 25, mom was diagnosed with kidney failure. For six years she went to dialysis three times a week for four hours at a time. She did this while raising myself and my two sisters. Life was tough, but she was tougher.

Finally, in 1999, when she was 31, the Gift of Life in the form of a kidney transplant was given to her. We got our mom back! She was so much happier after transplant, had more energy and could keep up with the three of us girls. Mom was so thankful to her anonymous donor. All we know is that the donor was a man – my grandma has been in touch with the family.

Mom was a fighter and survivor. Although she was not always able to physically participate in the Dash for Donation she registered every year and rallied her team to participate. She was the best team captain, cheering us on from the start to finish with a big smile and loving spirit – all to honor her donor and the life he gave her.

After 10 good years with her gift, the kidney began to fail. She was placed back on the national waiting list for her second chance at life. For the next eight years she hoped and prayed for another donor to be found. But one didn’t come.

In July 2016, at the age of 47, my mom passed away. Although the pain of losing her is still very real and fresh, our family has decided to again participate in the Dash as “Carletta’s Crusaders.” We will walk to honor mom, her donor and those who continue to wait for a life-saving transplant. Doing the Dash without mom will be hard and different, but we feel it’s necessary to honor the man who gave us so many great years with our mom.

I ask you to please consider registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor in honor of my mom. She was given 18 extra years with her girls – you could do the same for another family.

River’s Runners – Dash for Donation

By Donna Richards, donor mom

Corey and River – left to right

My son River was sweet, thoughtful and fair. He was a devoted big brother to Corey and a friend to all – he truly made an impact on those around him.

River loved music – he played everything from the guitar to harmonica. His passion for music was so deep, he was considering becoming an elementary school music teacher.

Unfortunately, his dreams were not meant to be. River passed away December 18, 2016 as a result of a car accident. He was just 20-years old.

To honor his love of Pokémon and Star Trek, we encouraged everyone to wear their favorite t-shirts to his funeral service. And we also urged everyone to follow in his footsteps and to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor.

You see, my son’s death brought hope to three people. He saved two people with the donation of his kidneys and one with the donation of his liver. So far, we’ve heard from one of his kidney recipients who is doing well after her transplant. We’ve also heard from her parents who thanked River for saving their daughter’s life.

River was a registered donor, something he and I had talked about when he received his license. He knew he wanted to give to others should something ever happen to him. It was a gift to us as well as to his recipients – his death had new meaning.

To honor my son, we are participating in the Dash for Donation on July 15. River’s Runners will take the streets of Columbus to celebrate his decision to give the gifts of life, sight and healing and to encourage others to do the same.

He was such a sweet kid with an infectious laugh. I miss it so much. I ask you to please consider registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor to honor my son, his decision and to give HOPE to so many who are waiting. Donation has meant so much to our family – you can do the same.


“I can do that” – Team Jordan

By Morgan Mersy, liver recipient

Team Jordan in 2016

“I can do that. I can do anything.” Those are words said by my heroic donor, Jordan Ayers. He was right – he could do anything. He saved my life.

I was born with a rare genetic liver disease and always knew I’d need a transplant. Once I was in college, my health became worse and I was listed for a new liver. Thanks to Jordan, I received my life-saving transplant February 26, 2001.

Since my transplant I’ve been able to do so many things that wouldn’t have been possible without this gift. I graduated college, got married and became a mom. My son, Graham Jordan, is my best and most proud of accomplishment in the 16 years since transplant. I cannot thank Jordan enough for this beautiful life.

In 2004, I took part in my first Dash for Donation to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation and to publicly thank Jordan for his gift. I look forward to the Dash every year and aim to create a bigger team than the previous year. “Team Jordan” means so much to me and to everyone who participates. But what means most to me is having Jordan’s family there with us. They come every year to honor their son and reflect on his incredible Gift of Life.

I hope you’ll join me on July 15 at the Dash for Donation in downtown Columbus! It’s an awesome day to take part in – if you can’t join us, please consider registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor today in honor of Jordan. I can’t thank him enough for my second chance.

My Dad’s Hero

By Makenzie Kelly, recipient daughter

Each semester, I welcome Lifeline of Ohio community educators into my classroom at Newark High School. The educators share the Donate Life message with my students and truly help them to understand organ donation so they can make an informed decision when they receive their learner’s permit. I’ve been proud of the relationship I’ve built with the community education team, but didn’t realize it fully until donation impacted my life.

Little did I know after helping share the message of donation in my classes for so many years, my dad, Fred, would need a kidney transplant to survive.

In 2013, my dad had blood work that came back abnormal from a neurologist appointment. We couldn’t believe it when he was, just a few days later, diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure. We were told he could do dialysis, but he would need a kidney transplant.

Dialysis disrupted his freedom and changed his emotional thoughts – he was now worried he would pass away. Fifteen years earlier he beat a brain tumor and this second medical emergency was worrisome for the whole family.

After more than two years of waiting on the national transplant waiting list and undergoing dialysis three times a week, he got “THE CALL!”  It was January 7, 2016 right after we celebrated my sister’s birthday when the phone rang. He cried. I cried. We all cried.

We were full of apprehension as we arrived at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for the transplant, but we were also fully aware a family was grieving the loss of their loved one. I was so thankful my dad was receiving his second chance at life.

As a family, we whole-heartedly thank my dad’s heroic donor. This person gave our “Frapple” (the name given to him by his grandson) the ability at sixty-five years old to watch his grandkids grow.  He gets to see them dance, play ball and watch them run in his house on Christmas morning.  It is the best gift we could have ever received.

I continue to have Lifeline of Ohio into my classroom to educate my students. The message they spread has a profound impact on all who hears it. Won’t you consider registering to be a hero today?