Each year, we have the honor of collaborating with the Governor’s office in Montana and Washington to honor organ donors from the previous year with the Gift of Life Award. Held during National Donate Life Month in April, organ donor families are invited to attend a ceremony held at their state capitol building with the Governor.
Having recently lost their loved ones, the Gift of Life Award gives families an opportunity to connect with others in their donation community and reflect on the impact their loved ones made through organ donation. Each family is presented with a certificate from the Governor recognizing their loved one’s generous and heroic gift of life.
Both events begin with a rose in which donor families can write a personalized message of love, hope, and remembrance. A rose is a symbol of love, loss, and renewal, and parallels the emotions families may experience while grieving the death of their loved one.
Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee, shared his gratitude with the families in the room for the ultimate act of kindness their loved ones gave and even shared his own connection to donation as a recipient father. His son’s sight was restored because of someone’s generosity in donating their corneas. Governor Inslee understands firsthand how meaningful organ donation is. His powerful message to the families in the room was a moving testament to the legacies their loved ones have left and the hope they have given to their recipients.
In Montana, Governor Steve Bullock spoke to generosity of Montanans and shared his own personal connection to donation, as a friend of his was being honored with the Gift of Life Award this year. Montana families were also able to view the Tree of Life, a sculpture created by local artist Jim Dolan, to honor organ donors from the state. The tree is comprised of leaves engraved with the name of Montana organ donors and is displayed in the State Capitol annually during April in support of National Donate Life Month.
Also in attendance at both ceremonies were the Montana Motor Vehicle Division and the Washington State Department of Licensing. Montana and Washington are first and third, respectively, in the nation with 90 and 87 percent of state residents over the age of 18 registered to be organ and tissue donors. The high donor designation shares in these states is largely attributed to the incredible dedication and support of donation from both agencies.
We are thankful for everyone who made these two events so special: Governor Jay Inslee and Governor Steve Bullock, the Washington State Department of Licensing, Montana Motor Vehicle Department, LifeCenter Northwest and Northwest Pacific Northwest Transplant Bank staff, ServeMontana, and most importantly the donor families; their personal stories of hope in the midst of loss continue to inspire us daily.
Click the links below to view photos from the events.