MORA will honor donors, recipients in special event

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Organ and tissue donors and recipients will be recognized Fridayduring a special “Tree of Life” planting and commemoration on thefuture campus of the Mississippi School of Arts.

The event, hosted by the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency(MORA), will be held at 11 a.m. in observation of National Organand Tissue Donor Awareness Week.

“We take every opportunity to honor donors and the families whomake the unselfish decision to help other people,” said JamesLaird, MORA volunteer services coordinator and Lincoln Countyresident whose son received a liver transplant several yearsago.

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During the ceremony, a Tree of Life will be planted, followed bya ribbon ceremony where donor and recipient families will tieribbons to the tree.

The Tree of Life recognition program is a statewide initiativeto promote awareness of the lifesaving gift of donation, as well asto honor those who have done so or benefited from donation.

It began in the state two years ago when former First Lady PatFordice planted an oak tree on the grounds of the state capitol.Similar ceremonies have been held in communities throughout thestate.

The Brookhaven site was selected after Laird and Amy Valentine,whose late son Will’s organs were donated after a fatal bicycleaccident, saw a need for a tree in honor of the donors andrecipients in the this area.

MORA officials agreed and are delighted to be able to fill theneed.

“We are honored to be planting a Tree of Life in Brookhaven,”said MORA Executive Director Kevin Stump. “The community here hasalways been supportive. So many local families have been touched byorgan and tissue donation.”

“This tree will honor them and serve as a reminder of thegenerosity of families who gave lifesaving organs during their timeof greatest loss.”

Following the ribbon ceremony, donor and recipient families willbe allowed to join in a special time to mark the occasion.

“I’ll ask them to share their stories if they would like,” saidLaird. “It’s a moving tribute to the gift of life.”

During the event, Valentine will also speak on behalf of donorfamilies, and Glenda Smith, whose husband Jimmy is a liverrecipient, will speak for recipient families.

Miss Mississippi 2000 Christy May, King’s Daughters MedicalCenter Director of Marketing Jennifer Jackson and Stump will alsoparticipate in the ceremony. Alexander Junior High School’s Soundsof Success Choir will provide special music.

After the ceremony, a reception, courtesy of Trustmark NationalBank, will be held in Mary Jane Lampton Auditorium on thecampus.

The Live Oak tree is being furnished by Bank of Brookhaven andGrowin’ Green Nursery in Bogue Chitto.