Last year, 30 individuals from Montana left behind a legacy of life by becoming organ donors. On April 27, we collaborated with the Governor’s Office to honor these donors with the Gift of Life Award in a ceremony held at the Capitol Building in Helena. Of the 100 guests in attendance, many were donor families, who were presented with a certificate from Governor Bullock recognizing their loved one’s generous and heroic gifts of life.

In addition to the award certificate, donor families had the opportunity for their loved one’s name to be engraved on a metal leaf and placed on the Tree of Life; a sculpture created by Bozeman artist, Jim Dolan. The art piece is displayed in the Capitol Rotunda every April, in honor of National Donate Life Month and each leaf serves as a reminder of the life-giving legacy the Montana donors left behind.

“This award was initiated to acknowledge the generous organ donors throughout the state that have given others a second chance at life,” Governor Bullock proclaimed.

The event began with rose dedications in which donor families could 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.

With the rose dedications beautifully placed in vases at the front of the room, the ceremony opened with words from Kevin O’Connor, President & CEO of LifeCenter Northwest.

He was followed by Governor Bullock, who shared his personal connection to donation and recognized all those involved in the donation process, from the hospital staff to the donor families, and most importantly, the heroes that left a legacy through the generous act of organ donation. He shared his gratitude with the families in the room for the renewed life and hope that their loved one’s gave to their recipients.

The Montana Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) was also honored for their collaborative efforts to spread donation awareness. Montana is number one in the nation for organ donation registration, with 90 percent of the eligible population (18 and older) registered to be organ, eye, and tissue donors. Nearly 99 percent of people who register for donation do so when receiving their driver’s license and this great accomplishment wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of the MVD and their dedicated staff.

The ceremony concluded with the reading of each donor’s name and the families in attendance receiving the Gift of Life Certificate in honor of their loved one. Families then had the opportunity to view the Tree of Life and connect with others in the donation community during a reception following the event.

We are thankful for everyone who attended this event and made the day so special; unwavering dedication to donation advocacy serves as our motivation each and every day.

To view a full album, or to order photos from the event please visit: