commemorative donor family gathering



commemorative donor family gathering
W INT ER 201 6
2016 donor family
and community
advisory council
Ellen K. Alterman
Neil’s wife
Ellen and Dan Blalock
Jennifer’s parents
Bettsy and Ray Crawford
Hilary’s parents
Elizabeth Exline
Becca’s friend
Jennifer Young Foote
Adam’s mother
Alisa Hughley
Carey’s sister
Linda Hurd
Zack’s wife
Ken Ivey
Erin’s father
BJ and Jodi Janosko
AJ’s brother and sister-in-law
Laure King
Becca’s mother
Wanda Leonard
Barbara’s daughter
Debbie Lott
Sara’s mother
Terry Murray
Alan’s wife
Teresa Roman
Hernan’s daughter
Valerie Stalnaker
Tom’s wife
Nancy and Tom Susco
Tim’s parents
Bill Thomasson
Taylor’s father
Jeanne Ward
Jessica’s mother
commemorative donor family gathering
Celebrating the Start of National Donate Life Month
april 3,2016
For a quarter of a century, WRTC has honored and
remembered our donors and their families at our
annual Donor Family Gathering. Please join us on
Sunday, April 3, 2016 beginning at 2:30 p.m. at the
National Presbyterian Church. WRTC is planning
a very special afternoon with thankful testimonies
from long time organ and tissues recipients whose
lives have been touched by your generous gifts.
Some have been celebrating more than twenty-five
years! Our beloved musicians are composing songs
to share our commitment to giving life.
The Gathering is a non-denominational service
attended by more than 500 individuals, some who
have traveled internationally and from across the
country. A pictorial tribute of our donors is shown
and the 20th Donor Remembrance Quilt will be
presented. Families are invited to pin a square to
start building the next quilt. The service concludes
with a candle lighting and reading. A reception
with light refreshments will follow. The church
is accessible from major highways and has ample
free parking.
Author John Eddinger was so touched with his
attendance at the Gathering that he included this
passage in his book, A Pennsylvania Trilogy:
“Where else but perhaps the United Nations could
one find among a gathering of 500 people the ethnic,
racial, and social mix here today. The program
itself was a low-key, dignified affair with remarks
by recipients, The touching ending was a candle
lighting ceremony. The organizers saw the wisdom
in placing tissues all along the pews.”
This is what others have to say…
“My husband died years ago, and this is one day
that I am remembered as Kevin’s wife, and am
free to share my emotions in a safe place.”
—A donor wife
“I have been blessed with receiving the “Gift of Life”
and am thankful that I have the opportunity to
publicly pay tribute to our heroes and their families.”
—A grateful recipient
There is no better way to kick off National Donate Life Month than our
tribute to your loved one! We hope you will join us on this special occasion.
honor and remember your loved one
during donate life month
April is National Donate Life month celebrated across the United States.
The purpose is to highlight the critical need of those waiting for life saving
transplants, to raise awareness about donation and to fill our state and national
registries with people who desire to generously give the gift of life to others upon
their death. Listed below are examples of activities you can do to honor and
remember your loved one during Donate Life month that assist with spreading
the message of donation. We hope you will share your creative ideas on
how you honored your loved one with us! For more information or to order
resources, contact the Donor Family Advocates, Lisa and Maureen by email
at [email protected] or visit
Donate Life Month Awareness and Remembrance Activities
> Attend the 25th Donor Family Gathering on April 3
> Record a brief message about your
loved one and their gifts on your phone
> Utilize Social Media—follow WRTC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
> Download Donate Life Month web
ad banners for your Facebook page, and email signatures
> Write a story and send a photo of
your loved one to WRTC that can
be posted on our website
> Organize a donor drive at your
church, workplace or community gathering place
> Plant a tree or bush in your loved
one’s honor
> Hang a Donate Life full size or garden flag at your home or business
> Share your loved one’s story with your > Order a Donate Life license plate
friends and family via Email, text or
(available in MD and VA,
post on social media
visit for details)
> Take a family photo with everyone wearing blue and green and post on social media
Local donor Victoria Williams is honored
on Joey Gase’s NASCAR car. Joey greets
Victoria’s family just before a race at the
Richmond International Raceway.
donor son continues
to honor his mother
NASCAR driver, Joey Gase, was surprised
and touched by winning the inaugural
Comcast Community Champion Award.
Gase was only 18 years old when his mother
died. Joey made the courageous decision to
donate her organs. The experience sparked
a fire in Joey to spread the word far and
wide about the importance of donation.
His passion for sharing the donation
message rivals his passion for racing.
“It’s amazing,” a thankful Gase said.
“My mom was able to help 66 people.
A lot of people think only of the recipients
but it’s also the family members who find
comfort knowing their loved ones have
helped others.” Throughout the country at
each race, Gase honors a donor by placing
their photo and the Donate Life logo on his
car. At the race family members have the
opportunity to hang out with Joey at his
car and cheer him on from the track pit…
a very unique perspective.
muslim outreach
In our continuing efforts to educate every community in its service area, WRTC has formed
a partnership with Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center’s Outreach Director.
He is an outspoken advocate for donation, who is aware of the myths and misconceptions
among fellow Imams and worshipers of Islam. He is graciously lending his time and energy to
WRTC on an integrated education and outreach campaign. Last summer Lesley Compagnone,
Public Affairs Manager, and Imam Johari presented in Chicago at the Islamic Society of North
America’s (ISNA) annual convention. During the convention donation/transplantation
were officially endorsed by the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA),
an important step in cultural acceptance and understanding.
Four donor registration drives were held at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque during prayer sessions
where both Imam Johari and the mosque’s Sheik preached about donation. Also, Voice of
America – Pakistan interviewed Bettsy Crawford, a donor mom and living donor, resulting in
a seven-minute piece that aired in December. More outreach events are planned in 2016 along
with print and digital informational material, staff training videos, and an educational summit
with national Donate Life leadership and Imams.
< Imam Johari Abdul-Malik and Lesley Compagnone
donor families and living donors
sharing stories with multi media
WRTC is proud to share with you the following stories from Donate Life
Ambassadors whose personal stories and journeys appeared in film,
on television, in print and on the lecture circuit.
film /television
Bill Thommason’s only child, Taylor died during her freshman year
of college. Her donated gifts saved the lives of six people. In 2010,
Bill participated in the 30 Days 30 Stories video project for WRTC.
In the video Bill commented that Taylor’s message to family and
friends would be “I Hope You Dance”, which was Taylor’s favorite
song and motto for life. A Hollywood producer who saw Bill’s
interview on You Tube contacted him because he was making
a documentary about the power of song in our lives. The chosen
song was “I Hope You Dance”. Taylor’s story and Bill’s moving
journey to meet her recipients was featured in the film. On Thanksgiving evening 2015,
I Hope You Dance aired on the Hallmark Murder and Mystery Channel. The full version
of the documentary and an accompanying book about the stories in the film are available
Stephanie Klaiber, determined to honor her beloved husband
on the first anniversary of his death, hosted a memorial golf
tournament. Martin, an avid golfer, died suddenly in a car
accident in October 2013, saving multiple lives with his gifts
of organs and tissue. Two very successful tournaments have
been held and a third is planned for September 2016. Remarkably,
the tournament was selected by Joel Zuckerman, a golf, travel and
sports author, to be featured in his new book, Golfers Giving Back,
Exceptional Charity Tournaments Coast to Coast. There are more than 140,000 charity
golf tournaments in the United States each year. The book tells the poignant and powerful
stories of 70 tournaments. Zuckerman beautifully describes Martin’s life and Stephanie’s
journey to honor him as well as highlighting WRTC and the two other charities that
benefit from the tournament.
Thomas Ethan Gray was born to Ross and Sarah Gray on March 29, 2010. His parents
knew months before his birth, that Thomas who had Anencephaly would not live long.
His twin brother, Callum, was born healthy. Sarah, determined that Thomas’ life would
have meaning, reached out to WRTC prior to the birth to see if Thomas could be
a donor. When Thomas died six days after his birth, his tissues were sent to Cytonet
in Raleigh, Duke University, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania for various
research protocols. Several years later, Sarah began her
quest to visit the laboratories and meet the researchers
who she considered to be Thomas’ recipients. Through
speaking at Donate Life conferences, print, radio and
television interviews such as NPR and The Today Show,
Sarah has promoted donation for research and advocated
for donor families to receive meaningful information
on how their loved one’s gift are being used in research.
In November she gave a Ted Med talk in Palm Springs, CA
before an audience of 800. Sarah commented that “It was
a privilege to share our personal journey with the greater
medical community”.
wrtc volunteer wins
aopo’s national award
and a local emmy
Sherri Ly, former Fox 5 News investigative
reporter, received the Association of Organ
Procurement Organization’s (AOPO) Crystal
Heart Award at its Annual Meeting in June.
The Crystal Heart Award honors a media
representative for his or her outstanding
efforts to accurately depict the reality and
science of donation and transplantation to
the public. Sherri, a tremendous advocate,
has contributed to public education efforts in
countless ways, professionally and personally.
During her time at Fox 5 News, she was the
subject of a multi-segment human interest
series about the power of living donation.
Why? She generously donated a kidney to her
brother who was in dire need of a transplant.
Through this deeply personal experience,
she felt a responsibility to research facts,
report truths, bust myths, and share with
the world her unique experience as a living
kidney donor. Personally, she serves as an
invaluable Donate Life Ambassador for
WRTC and spokesperson for the Donate Life
cause. Sherri also received an Emmy based
on her Gift of Life story at the 57th National
Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter Emmy
awards on June 29th. Congratulations, Sherri!
celebrate, compete, commemorate
Transplant Games of America will host this year’s Transplant Games in Cleveland, Ohio June 10–15. The games are
a four-day Olympic style athletic competition for transplant recipients and living donors showcasing to the world
that transplantation works! Donor families are honored with a special recognition ceremony. While the Games
are an athletic event that calls attention to the success of transplantation, it is a celebration of life among recipients,
donor families, and friends. The loudest roar comes for those finishing last in a competition and the donor families.
Please contact us if you are interested in joining Team Maryland or Team Virginia. Team Virginia, a non-profit
501©3 organization, is partnering with Amazon Smile in its fundraising efforts. To support Team Virginia through
your Amazon account simply log into and choose Team Virginia tga. A donation from
your purchase will be credited to Team Virginia.
Upcoming Donor Family & Volunteer Events
1st and 3rd Thursday evening,
Widowhood Support Group, WRTC office
Donate Life Ambassador Training, WRTC office
Widowhood Grief Seminar, WRTC office
Quilt Square submission deadline
Donor Family Healing Retreat, WRTC office
Leslie Ebert Legacy of Life Scholarship Deadline
SEPTEMBER 17 Tim Susco 8k/2k, South Lakes High School, APRIL 3
25th Annual Donor Family Gathering,
National Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC
SEPTEMBER 26 3rd Annual Martin Klaiber Memorial
Donor Family and Community Advisory Council meeting, WRTC office
MAY 22
Sudden Death Grief Seminar,
Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, MD
JUNE 10–15
Transplant Games of America, Cleveland, OH
AJ Janosko Memorial Golf Tournament, Lansdowne Resort, Leesburg, VA
Reston, VA,
Golf Tournament, Leesburg, VA
Please let us know if your address has changed
or you would like to be taken off our mailing list.
MAY 11