My Little Brother’s Greatest Gift
The last time I spoke to my brother was to wish him a Happy 26th Birthday on July 7, 1997. Two days later, after lifting weights at the local Y, he was riding his motorcycle to meet friends for a basketball game when a 16-year-old girl turned left in front of him. She hadn’t seen his motorcycle. He was air lifted to a hospital in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, where the doctors explained to us that he was brain dead. When asked if he was a registered organ donor, we didn’t know his wishes, but we knew it was the right thing to do.
My brother Mark was the youngest of five and the only boy. As a four year letterman for the University of Dayton, he was an offensive tackle on their 1989 national championship football team. No matter how big he grew….6’3”/285 lbs…..he was always the “little” brother to four older sisters.
After college, he became a probation/parole officer for the state of Ohio. He never had the opportunity to become a husband or a father, but instead, he became a hero and a life saver. Both of his kidneys, his pancreas and his heart were donated.
More than 15 years later, his heart is still beating. When we found his drivers’ license after returning from the hospital, the heart in the lower right corner confirmed that we honored his wishes. And we honor him still with a team in his name, MJY75, at Lifeline of Ohio’s Dash for Donation. The last football game he ever attended was the ’97 Rose Bowl. He and I were in the stands at the parade before our beloved Buckeyes won. Each year, there is a rose on the Donate Life float in the Rose Bowl Parade in his name.
We still grieve the deep loss in our family, but gain comfort knowing four other families were blessed with the greatest gift…the gift of life! Register as an organ donor today by clicking here.
*Mark Joseph Youngpeter is pictured as a groomsman in my wedding in April 1996, the year before he died.