**Update: 10TV showcased Sydnee and her gifts this summer. Please watch the true difference she made. We thank Sydnee for being a hero. **
My daughter Sydnee was always concerned with the well-being of others. She was the person her friends would go to when they were having a bad day or going through a tough situation. She always knew what to say or do, whether it was providing some words of encouragement, sharing her own struggles, or just being silly to help them gain perspective. Unfortunately, our daughter’s life was cut very short.
On October 18th, 2013, Sydnee lost control of her car while texting and driving. She was not wearing her seatbelt, and as a result, was ejected from the vehicle causing fatal head trauma.
Kristie, a nurse who was on her way to work, witnessed the crash. She narrowly missed being hit as Sydnee’s car flipped across the oncoming highway traffic. Kristie performed CPR on Sydnee until the paramedics arrived. Her efforts to save my daughter played a critical role in Sydnee being able to donate her organs.
That night, Sydnee made two bad decisions which cost my daughter her life – texting and driving and not wearing a seat belt. However, a little over a year prior, while getting her driver’s license, Sydnee made a great decision by saying yes to organ donation. As a family, we didn’t talk to Sydnee about all the great reasons to be an organ donor, she just knew that was the right thing to do. Being so focused on the well-being of others, it really wasn’t a decision at all for her.
Sydnee was able to give the gift of life by donating her liver, kidneys, pancreas and small intestine as well as life enhancing eye and tissue donations. Her heart and lungs were able to be donated for research.
On the one month anniversary of her death, we received a letter from her pancreas and kidney recipient. Ted is in his late-fifties, lives in central Ohio and is a public servant. His two teenage sons are both very active in athletics at their school. Sydnee’s gift took him from being home bound, on a dialysis machine, to being able to return to his life free from diabetes and able to enjoy watching his kids grow up. While we were very happy to hear from him, we were not quite ready to write him back.
In the months following Sydnee’s death, we began working with Impact Teen Drivers, a national non-profit organization focused on education about the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of seatbelt safety. As part of those efforts, we filmed Sydnee’s story to drive home the impact one decision can have.
We hosted a screening dinner as a thank you to those who participated in the filming, allowing them to be the first to see the video. This gave us the courage to write Ted and invite him to participate in the video screening dinner. We felt this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring some closure for Kristie, seeing what her efforts that night had accomplished for Ted.
Lifeline of Ohio set up a meeting for us with Ted the weekend before our video screening dinner. We met with Ted and his family and immediately felt very comfortable. We shared photos of Sydnee and talked about our family and the work we were doing with Impact Teen Drivers. We spent well over an hour with him that day, getting to know his background and hearing more details about how Sydnee’s donation has completely changed his life.
Since that meeting, we have formed a Dash for Donation team, Remember Sydnee, and have more than 30 people walking for our daughter. This includes Ted and his family, Kristie and many others. This opportunity allows us to honor Sydnee’s memory and to also reach many others with the message about saying yes to organ donation, the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of always wearing your seatbelt. These three messages are forever intertwined with Sydnee’s story, and are emblazoned on bracelets we distribute as a physical reminder to learn from Sydnee’s story.
You can say yes and save lives like Sydnee did by registering at your local BMV or by clicking here to register online.