Written by Hailey Derby, Taylor's Gift Intern
My name is Hailey Derby and I am a 22-year-old senior at the University of North Texas. I’m a normal college student trying to finish school, in that phase of realizing that life as I know it will change very soon. Being an adult is in the very near future. Between a full class load and working full time, it is hard to find time for much else, whether that is trying to maintain a normal social life or finding time to get involved in my community. Thankfully, one of my courses has made it easier to become involved in my community. For my public relations course, we were given the assignment to work with a non-profit organization all semester. Thus began my involvement with Taylor’s Gift Foundation.
I had no idea who I was going to work with when given the assignment. Everyone had chosen small non-profits located in Denton, our college town, or well known organizations in Texas. Wanting to branch out, I started researching different foundations in the area. I came across Taylor’s Gift Foundation where I began reading about Taylor’s story and the different stories from those touched by the selfless gift of organ donation. Tears began welling up in my eyes as I realized I had found my Foundation to partner with.
After reading more about Taylor’s Gift more questions began filling my brain. In the process of preparing to graduate from college, and becoming a full-fledged “adult”, you start racking your brain with all the things you will have to prepare for in the future, including what will happen when you are not around anymore, and Taylor’s Gift made me realize how truly important this is. Though, this is something I hope doesn’t happen for quite some time, you never know. Your life can change in the blink of an eye.
The conversation about organ donation was never something talked about with friends, in class, or even really within my family. My mom briefly mentioned a couple times to my sisters and me that when she passed away that she wanted to be cremated and anything she could donate to someone else she wanted to. However, that was always the end of that conversation. To me, as well as many others, the topic of organ donation is something, well in my case, kind of scary. However, after meeting with some of the amazing leaders within Taylor’s Gift and hearing first hand stories from donor families and recipients, I realized it shouldn’t be, because organ donation is something that is a truly inspirational and selfless gift.
Over the past few weeks, after constant communication with leaders in Taylor’s Gift and learning more about organ donation, I was inspired to “outlive myself.”
On October 1, 2015, I attended the Crossroads Diner and KLIF Taylor's Gift benefit breakfast in Dallas. I interviewed and spoke with the Foundation's Co-Founder Tara Storch, Celebrity Spokesperson Carly Patterson, and the person who made the biggest impact on my decision: volunteer and double-lung recipient, Tina Rueles. After interviewing Rueles I wanted to burst into tears. Her story, as well as her family’s story about how they have seen both sides of the donation process, was truly inspirational. At that moment, I was going to become a registered organ donor. After finishing my interview with her, we both walked over to the Donate Life Texas table and within a matter of one minute, I was a registered donor. (Yes, it was really that easy.)
This one minute out of my day, allowed me to one day, change someone’s life. My interaction with Taylor’s Gift and knowledge about the process is just beginning. But, my hope from my experience and my continued partnership with Taylor’s Gift, is that I can help others learn that organ donation is not a scary subject and how they too can learn the importance of “Outlive Yourself.”
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