Diane Schmitz from Gift of Hope was kind enough to send along this recap of the annual donor families tribute event that is intended to bring together the loved ones of donors who passed along the gift of life to others. Thanks for sharing Diane!
Back in September, I was fortunate enough to help plan and attend our annual tribute for our donor families and their friends and loved ones. Gift of Hope, the Illinois Eye-Bank and Heartland Lions Eye-Bank host this annual event at the Wildlife Prairie State Park. This was the first remembrance event I ever helped coordinate and the experience still seems surreal. An estimated 450 individuals attended this year’s event, which first started back in 1998. Although the forecast called for rain, the weather was warm and rain free.
Those who attended this special, private event had an opportunity to socialize, learn about the services we offer but most importantly remember their loved ones who gave such a precious gift, the gift of donation. Attendees heard remarks from both the donor family experience as well as from recipients. All of their stories conveyed such a range of emotions. We also had a remembrance presentation. Each donor’s name was read aloud while their name or name and photo were displayed.
Our wonderful dedicated staff and volunteers supported the event with their experience, insights and compassion. I am truly in awe of the strength donor families have and hope we recognized those who gave the gift of hope with respect and dignity. Already I am looking forward to next year’s tribute.
- Diane Schmitz Donor Family Services Coordinator, Gift of Hope