posted on April 14th 2017 in Blog /

After a week of rain and cold, the sun shined bright over the Indiana Landmarks Center, a restored Romanesque Revival-style church, making it the perfect day at the perfect venue to host donor families for a day of remembrance and celebration.

On Saturday, April 8th, 44 Indiana Donor Network employees joined forces during National Donate Life Month at the Indiana Landmarks Center to volunteer their time for the Gift of Life Celebration in honor of organ, tissue and eye donors and their families. Under a beautiful domed ceiling looking out at spectacular stained-glass windows, 403 donor family members filled the sanctuary in preparation for the ceremony.

Tammy Hackman, donor mother, began by reading the definition of the word “hero” from the dictionary.  She then described her definition – her daughter, Tristian.  Tristan was an organ donor on May 31, 2015.

Tammy described her daughter’s donation as something that brought calm to their family during tragedy and hope to others who wouldn’t have had that chance without her.

Joining Tammy on the stage was the recipient of Tristian’s lungs, Jerry Gilliland. Jerry shared his story of hope – talking through the progression of his disease that led to his lifesaving transplant. With tears rolling down his cheeks, Jerry closed his presentation by giving thanks to the donor families for their support of donation that allows others to live. For more on Tammy and Jerry’s story, click here.

The ceremony continued with a touching video tribute submitted by donor families in honor of their loved one’s donation. In the face of grief, families demonstrated love as they stood, clapped and cheered in celebration of their hero when they appeared on the screen.

Concluding the ceremony, families gathered at the front of the sanctuary to participate in a symbolic sand ceremony. Each grain of sand represented loss, but when the grains stood together, they became strong – uniting all donor families as one.

Everyone left immensely grateful for this beautiful celebration of the gift of life.

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