December 21, 2017: On October 20, approximately 150 guests gathered at Palms Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville Beach for LifeQuest’s annual Tribute to Life ceremony. This reverent event honors organ, tissue and eye donors, the donors’ families, living donors and transplant recipients.
Twenty-three donor families were represented this year, and the families, living donors and recipients lit candles to honor those who have given the Gift of Life. Several speakers shared their personal connection with organ donation, including donor mother, Jennifer Banks, Burcin Taner, MD, chair of the transplant program at Mayo clinic, and Kimberly Clayton, who received a life-saving kidney and pancreas transplant.
Our Faces of Life video, which showcases photographs of organ donors, was shown as the candles glowed. Guests were encouraged to mingle, share their stories and view the Storm Bryson Donor Memorial Quilt panels before and after the ceremony.
Donna Cottle, LifeQuest donor family services coordinator, has observed that for some donor families, the Mix and Mingle time is extremely valuable.
“Families feel more relaxed after hearing speakers share their donation stories,” Cottle said. “They learn that they are not alone in their grief, and they are reassured that organ donation was the right decision.”
“The Tribute to Life events are the most profound and memorable events we host each year,” said LifeQuest’s executive director Danielle Balbis. “The events give donor families the opportunity to gather with other families who have experienced similar, tragic losses and generously supported organ and/or tissue/eye donation. I am deeply touched by the families who come up to me after the event to say how much the Tribute to Life provides them with the continued comfort and healing they need.”