Organ Donor, Former Governor Honored in Rose Bowl Parade
MADISON - Described as "quiet, yet strong," 16-year-old Kelly Nachreiner would likely be overwhelmed with the legacy she left behind when she became an organ donor in January, 2000. But the impact of her donation in Wisconsin and across the country made Kelly a natural choice to be one of 38 organ, tissue and eye donors to be pictured on The Stars of Life Donate Life float in the 120th Rose Bowl Parade in January.
Selected from thousands of nominations from across the country, Kelly will be honored with a florograph of her likeness on the float. Her parents, Lou and Mary Nachreiner of Sauk City, will travel to Pasadena in December to decorate Kelly's florograph.
"Kelly had expressed her desire to be an organ donor when applying for her driver’s permit," Kelly's mother Mary said. "The fact that Kelly was able to be an organ donor was the one ray of sunshine at the darkest time of our lives."
Just five months after Kelly's death, Governor Tommy Thompson signed the Kelly Nachreiner Bill into law, requiring all drivers education programs in Wisconsin to give 30 minutes of instruction on organ donation. It was the first bill of its kind in the country and many states have since enacted the same law. When Governor Thompson became Secretary of Health and Human Services in 2001, he modeled a national organ-donation curriculum for middle and high schools, "Decision Donation," based on Kelly's Law.
Governor Thompson will also be honored on the float, unanimously selected to be one of 14 luminaries in the field of donation to be recognized. Inspired by the Hollywood Walk of Fame, this cluster of stars will feature the names of the select few to be honored.
"Kellys legacy is justly honored and I'm proud to play a role in bringing the importance of donation to the classroom and the public's attention," adds Thompson.
"I was inspired by Kelly's decision to donate her organs to save other people," said Tommy Thompson, "and by the passion her family had to educate others about donation."
Shortly after Kelly's death, Mary joined the staff at the UW Health Organ Procurement Organization, the federally-mandated program that provides donation services to 104 hospitals in Wisconsin, upper Michigan and northern Illinois. Mary works to create programs and provide support for other families who have experienced organ donation. She also recently served as a donor family member on the Board of Directors for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) which governs the national donation process.
"I see Kelly's legacy in action every time I work with kids who are getting their 30 minutes of organ donation education," said Mary. "It heals me to know Kelly is still making a difference in the world. I think Kelly would be amazed by all this, but we're pleased that she was selected to be honored on the float."
Date Published: 11/26/2008