Thursday, August 18, 2011

Walking for Deanna

Kites on the Ocean City, New Jersey beach at 1...
Ocean City, NJ beach
Michael Tittinger is a man on a mission, and as I tell his story, I want to warn you to have a tissue handy before you continue reading. Michael is walking across the country to raise awareness and money for organ donation, and he's doing it to honor the memory of his late wife, Deanna. She was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at the age of 10. Doctors said she only had a few years to live, but she proved them wrong and lived into her 20s. Three years after the couple was married she went into heart failure. Deanna ultimately lost her battle with the disease, because she was on the heart transplant list so long that the rest of her health was severely deteriorated by the time she received the transplant.

While Deanna was in the hospital, Michael promised to make her proud, and it's a promise he intends to keep. Since Deanna's death, he has moved to California and remarried, but he felt like something was missing - he hadn't kept his promise .... yet. Then, with the prompting and encouragement of his new wife, Brooke, who told him, "You need to walk home," he began planning his walk as a way to keep his promise to Deanna. He began it in San Francisco, CA back in June and will conclude it in Ocean City, NJ - the place he spread Deanna's ashes and said goodbye.

Michael's walk is not only raising awareness about the importance of registering as an organ and tissue donor, but it's also raising money for the Onny and Oboe Scholarship Fund that he set up in honor of Deanna. Onny and Oboe were the names of Deanna's childhood imaginary friends. Contributions to the fund are awarded as post-secondary school scholarships for heart transplant recipients, and their spouses, and / or children in order that they might further their education. If you would like to learn more about Michael's quest, follow Michael's progress across the country, or make a donation to the scholarship fund you can visit his website by clicking here. If you are unable to make a donation, I encourage you to at least visit his website to learn more about his mission and lift him up in prayer as he continues his journey.

Michael, myself, and others who have been impacted by organ transplantation are on similar journeys. Our goal is stop the needless suffering and dying due to the shortage of organ donors. There is no valid reason why any American should ever die waiting on an organ transplant or suffer for so long waiting that the rest of their body begins shutting down, as Deanna's did. It's senseless. We live in the wealthiest and most medically technologically advanced country in the world, but yet about 18 Americans still die, or suffer, needlessly every day because not enough of us have registered as organ donors. Michael said it best, "It seems like the easiest way to be a hero. You can save eight lives just by checking a box on your license. If more people were organ donors, Deanna might still be here."

He's absolutely right. There doesn't have to be more Deanna's who suffer and suffer until they can't hang on anymore. What if Deanna had been your spouse ? Or, your parent ? Or, your sibling ? Or, your best friend ? Help us stop the needless suffering and dying. Visit the Donate Life America website today by clicking here to learn how to register as an organ and tissue donor in your state.

Source : article on titled Walking Cross-Country is Close to His Heart   

P.S. I have only summarized Michael's story here. Be sure to click on the source article link above and read the entire thing. It will move you.
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