Organ Donation Night Supports Kindergartener

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Dottie Donor Dot and JaxsonAs 5-year-old Jaxson Trickle waits for a new kidney, he knows it's not just his family and friends who are supporting him — it's his entire community. Early in January, the Lodi High School girls' basketball team held its first-ever Organ Donor Night and welcomed him as its guest of honor.


"The gym was packed," says head coach Michelle Puls, who organized the Lodi, Wis. event with her assistant coach Stacey Schneider. "It was beyond my wildest dreams."


Jaxson, a kindergartener, was born with Stage 4 kidney disease. While he is healthy enough to live without a new kidney right now, he is becoming weaker and will need a kidney transplant soon.


Michelle and Stacey took over coaching duties for the team in March 2014 and immediately began brainstorming ideas for a community night. Jaxson's sister, Mackenzie Ripp, is a junior on the team, and they thought it would be appropriate to organize an organ donation night to honor him. As they were planning the event, Michelle found out her mother-in-law needed a liver transplant, and the evening took on even more meaning for her.


Prior to the event, Mackenzie designed t-shirts and she and her teammates sold them at school. Between the pre-sales and the game, the team sold more than 500 shirts. The girls collected more than 30 raffle prizes and sold tickets before and during the game. People who attended the game bought "memory balls" to honor organ donors and people waiting for a transplant, which they posted on an honor wall at the game. There were computers available for attendees to register as organ donors at teh Donate Life Wisconsin/Donor Registry.


At the game, Jaxson's kindergarten class sang a song they wrote for him and Mackenzie gave a short speech. "I don't think there was a dry eye in the house," says Michelle. "It gave the girls a realization of how important this is."


Trey Schwab, outreach coordinator for UW Organ and Tissue Donation (UW OTD), attended the event and spoke to the girls about the importance of their efforts. "These types of events can provide hope to those who are waiting for transplants," he says. "They see there are people who are doing things to increase the number of registered donors. Hopefully the waiting times can be shortened for everyone who is waiting for a transplant."


The event raised more than $5,300 for UW OTD. "The money raised helps us provide more education to the public through radio and television advertising," continues Schwab. "We can also provide materials to schools or civic groups that we wouldn't otherwise be able to do within our normal budget."