Honoring Texas Heroes
On Oct. 2, bike riders from all over Texas rolled up to the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center as part of the 2017 Lone Star Circle of Life. The ride – a biennial, weeklong bike tour through Texas – is held to bring awareness of the need for lifesaving organ, eye, blood and bone marrow donations.
Four riders rode in honor of LifeGift’s heroes and their families. LifeGift’s 2017 honorees included:
Larry Joseph is being nominated as a Lone Star Circle of Life Honoree because of his outstanding commitment to LifeGift during Hurricane Harvey. While not a transplant recipient, donor family or someone waiting, we consider Larry to be a donation champion in his role as inventory control specialist at LifeGift.
During Hurricane Harvey, Larry braved the high waters and came to LifeGift’s Houston office to check on the security of the building and report any damages to his supervisor, because she could not get in due to the impassable roads. Because of Larry's commitment and dedication to his job, LifeGift was able to remain operational and continue our mission to save lives through donation in the midst of one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the greater Houston area. We applaud Larry for his dedication and hard work, and therefore would like to recognize him as a Lone Star Circle of Life Honoree!
Jorge Tamez was trying to save the life of a horse after Hurricane Harvey floods and was attacked by fire ants. Jorge was a registered donor and went onto to save the lives of more than 50 people through his donation of a heart, both kidneys, liver, tissues and corneas.
He was only 28 years old, and loved his wife, horses and soccer. He was the brother-in-law to LifeGift employee Veronika Tovar.
Always smiling, talking to God and dancing to hymns, tiny Fernandita “Fergy” Rodriguez was an angel to her family. When a car accident took her away at only 15 months old, Fergy’s parents, Nancy and David, knew she had simply gone home. For the funeral, they chose not to grieve her passing, but to celebrate her life. Everyone wore bright, happy colors. Though Nancy says the grieving process will never really be over, she also realizes that Fergy will never really be gone – she and David donated Fergy’s tissues.
“Knowing that a part of her is living in someone else is very gratifying,” Nancy said. The Rodriguez family honors their little girl through a support group they started for grieving families. Nancy and her mother, Martha Torres, are also LifeGift volunteers.
Joe Gonzales, fondly referred to as “Mr. Joe” by LifeGift personnel, was on duty at LifeGift’s Houston office as the security guard during Hurricane Harvey. Despite several attempts to send him home, Mr. Joe stayed at LifeGift to make sure our building was safe. He ended up spending three nights and four days at LifeGift, constantly checking in with Jessica Leibold, senior managing director of purchasing and facilities, alerting her to any issues with the building. In our eyes, he is truly a Harvey Hero and allowed us the ability to remain focused on our mission: to save lives through organ and tissue donation.