This Valentine's Day, Honor the “Heart Man” Become A Donor
Some 13 years ago I went to a memorial service for a great man, Cliff Steer. I think of him every year as Valentine's Day approaches.
You might not have ever heard of him, but thankfully, tens of thousands of school children and young adults heard him.
Heard him talk about how he had made poor choices in his youth. Poor choices about who he had hung out with and what he had put into his body. How smoking and alcohol had poisoned his body and crippled his heart to the point of dying. He’d stand there, in front of his young audiences, holding his heart. Yes, holding his original, diseased heart. He’d show them exactly what his poor choices had done to his heart, and why it had almost killed him.
But, luckily for Cliff Steer (and all of those thousands of kids and teenagers), an anonymous donor had supplied Cliff with a new heart and a new chance for him to make better choices. And that is exactly what he did; he made the choice to live for the next 18 years without alcohol and cigarettes. And, he made the choice to focus on educating others about two things, two very important things.
First: make the right choices. Second: be a donor.
Make the right choices. Sounds simple; but not really. Cliff would say to students, you have to do more than just “say no”. “Saying no” wasn’t enough if you kept trying to fit in with the wrong group…eventually, Cliff would say, you’ll still get caught up making the wrong choices. You have to get away from the wrong group. Hard? Yes, but necessary. He’d underscore this point by opening up his heart and pointing out the very visible damage caused by the bad choices made in his youth. It made a powerful impression.
Be a donor. Sounds simple, and it really is. The trouble is it takes a bit of time to do it right. You can easily download a uniform donor card off of a number of donor-related websites (shareyourlife.org being one). In California you can register to be a donor online at https://register.donatelifecalifornia.org/register/. You can also get a donor card and sticker for your driver’s license at your local D.M.V. office.
But one more really important thing about becoming a donor! You need to make sure your loved ones know that organ donation is your wish. Because if you die, and your family is grieving, the last thing that they are going to want to do is agree to have your organs removed, unless they know beforehand that that is your desire. You need to educate them now.
At the memorial service so long ago, I remember seeing how much Cliff Steer had meant to so many people. He had lived long enough for he and his wife Jean to have four children, nine grandchildren and countless good friends, all of whom had clearly been blessed by Cliff being a part of their life. Just think if Cliff’s heart donor hadn’t made his/her decision to become a donor, Cliff might not have had those eighteen more years to make such a difference in so many lives. A hundred thousand kids and teens throughout the world might not have heard him (“The Heart Man”) talk, either in a live presentation or through his video (which he had made of his presentation and had sent out to schools and organizations all over the world). If Cliff’s heart donor hadn’t communicated his wishes to his family, perhaps my two young sons wouldn’t have heard Cliff’s talk and been so inspired about how making the right choices could so impact one’s life.
At the memorial service, Cliff’s unidentified donor was publicly thanked. I wish that individual’s family could have attended the service and seen what wonder had come out of the unselfish act of organ donation by their family member.
February 14th, Valentine’s Day, is National Donor Awareness Day. More than 124,000 men, women and children currently await life-saving organ transplants. Take a moment and make a life-impacting choice: become a donor. And tell your family that you’ve done so, and suggest that they, too, become donors. Imagine how you’d feel if someone is your family needed an organ and it wasn’t available. Become a donor for yourself, your family and others. Do it because it is the right choice. Do it for “the Heart Man”. Just do it, today.