Shining Star Award

Shining StarHonoring exceptional dedication, outstanding support, novel partnerships and/or extraordinary efforts in the area of organ and tissue donor awareness.

Nominations can be submitted for an individual or organization. Nominations should be based on organ and tissue donation-related achievements within the twelve (12) months preceding the nomination deadline. The nomination should explain and give specific examples of how the individual or organization has demonstrated an extraordinary level of service or commitment. Community service activities may be used to support a nomination.

Organizations demonstrating originality or innovative methods of promoting the need for organ donation are also suitable candidate. Examples include partnering with other organizations to reach new audiences or maximize the effectiveness of current programs.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has recognized the following people or groups with a Shining Star award for their exemplary work in promoting organ and tissue donor awareness:

2016

Deacon Lawrence Bailey, Canton

Deacon Bailey was on dialysis for five years because of high blood pressure and diabetes, until he received a kidney transplant in May 2013. He now says he lives “a wonderful life.” Deacon Bailey is one of the “Angels for Life” ambassadors who have all been instrumental in bringing the message of organ, tissue and eye donation to hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Detroit and Wayne County. They have been part of Gift of Life Michigan’s “Angels for Life” campaign, which has generated over 1,000 new donor registrants each of the past two years.

Reverend Ronald Copeland, Farmington Hills

Reverend Copeland was diagnosed with Hepatitis C over 30 years ago, which slowly destroyed his liver and quality of life. The two-time cancer survivor received a liver transplant in May 2012. Today he is remarkably well and virus-free, living in Farmington Hills. He frequently promotes the Gift of Life “Angels for Life” program in Detroit and Wayne County. He is an energetic, compassionate person whose greatest desire is to share “that life is so awesome and enjoyable.”

Artelia Griggs, Detroit 

Ms. Griggs is a donor mother whose 39-year-old daughter Angela died from a fatal asthma attack in November 2010 in Pennsylvania. Angela was a registered organ and tissue donor and was able to help others through tissue and cornea donation. Ms. Griggs says, “Angela was a very generous person throughout her life. In the end, she gave the most precious gift - herself.”  Ms. Griggs, a Detroit native, is a Gift of Life MOTTEP advocate through the “Angels for Life” program, helping to encourage others to join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, primarily in Detroit and Wayne County. 

 

2015

Larry Alman, Greenville

Larry Alman was born with cataracts in both eyes and underwent four surgeries before age five. He began having trouble with glaucoma at age 43 and had his first cornea transplant in 1999. He received four additional transplants to save what was left of his vision. He regularly visits the Montcalm County PLUS Secretary of State office to talk to customers about the importance of organ, tissue and eye donation. In 2014, Gift of Life Michigan reported a 70 percent average increase in the number of new donor registrants when he was present at the branch office. He also signed up more than 200 people on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry at one event in 2008. Alman has been a member of the Greenville Lions Club since 1983. Lions Clubs throughout Michigan support eye health and cornea donation, and were instrumental in forming what is now Eversight Michigan. Eversight Michigan nominated Alman for the award.

Alicia and Michael Stillman, West Bloomfield

Alicia and Michael Stillman were awarded the Shining Star for their creation of the Emily Stillman Foundation. The Stillmans lost their 19-year-old daughter Emily in 2013 to the B strain of meningococcal disease. Through donation, however, Emily saved five lives and enhanced many others. Since then the family has championed the cause of organ, tissue and eye donation and encouraged awareness of meningococcal disease, especially the B strain, which was the only strain not provided in vaccines in the United States at that time. They have also met the recipients of Emily's organs. Gift of Life Michigan nominated the Stillmans for this award.

Rev. Patrick Gahagen, Detroit

The Rev. Patrick Gahagen, former pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Detroit, was awarded with a Shining Star Award for his support of organ, tissue and eye donation. He received a double lung transplant in 1997 due to cystic fibrosis and since then he has been promoting the cause. His "Gift of Life Sundays" at Immanuel Lutheran Church have encouraged others to share their stories and helped dispel myths surrounding organ donation, and he has taught others how to spread the word through seminars on the subject. He has traveled statewide to help teach community leaders about donation, participated in Gift of Life Michigan's MOTTEP Life Walk on Belle Isle, and assisted with the "Angels for Life" program, which promotes donation among faith communities. The Donate Life Coalition of Michigan nominated Gahagen for this award.

Oakwood Hospital-Dearborn

Calling it a pioneer in encouraging organ, tissue and eye donation, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson awarded Oakwood Hospital-Dearborn a Shining Star Award in 2015. Since 2010, staff has added nearly 1,200 names to the registry and Oakwood continues to be a leading donor hospital. The hospital averages seven organ donors per year, 20 tissue donors annually, and is a leader in eye donation with 214 donors in five years. Gift of Life Michigan and Eversight Michigan (formerly the Michigan Eye-Bank) nominated the hospital for the Shining Star Award for its culture of donation and its commitment to adding names to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. Also in 2014 the hospital unveiled a memorial titled "A New Dawn" near the interfaith sanctuary, thanking and remembering donors who help others live. It is one of just two hospital-hosted memorials in the state of Michigan.

 

2014

Beverly Butler, Grosse Pointe Woods

Beverly Butler’s daughter Rebecca, a Wayne State University student, died in 2011, waiting for a lung transplant after being diagnosed with severe pulmonary hypertension. Rebecca had been actively involved in WSU’s Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and shared her story with her sisters. After her death, Butler and the sorority sisters spearheaded efforts to raise awareness of the issue, including spearheading the annual Gift of Life Campus Challenge, in which colleges and universities compete to register the most names on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. With Butler’s assistance, the Alpha Gamma Delta sisters have signed up hundreds of people to the registry and together they continue to promote organ, tissue and eye donation.

Marquette General Hospital

The Marquette General Hospital earned the award for its work in a sensitive organ donation case that has made headlines around the world. Sanaz Nezami, 27, an Iranian citizen, was a student at Michigan Technological University when she was assaulted so brutally by her husband in December 2012 that she would never recover. The hospital was able to track her family down in Iran and, using online technology, allowed her family to see Nezami and offer some comfort in her last hours. Family members, who said they wanted Americans to know that Nezami loved America, authorized the recovery of her organs so she could impact the lives of several other people through organ and tissue donation.

Michigan Donor Family Council

The Michigan Donor Family Council was given the award based on the group’s work supporting family members of donors and encouraging more people to join the donor registry. Council CEO Patty Jo Herndon said council members are honored to be recognized for their work supporting organ donation efforts, especially because of their personal experience with donation. “Each of our members has personally been touched by organ, tissue and/or eye donation,” she said. “We bring donor families, recipients and advocates together to educate and increase awareness of organ, tissue, and eye donation and transplantation in honor of donors who gave the greatest gifts of life, sight and mobility.”

Dr. Joyce deJong, Medical Examiner for Ingham, Muskegon ETC Counties

Ingham County Medical Examiner Dr. Joyce deJong, who also serves as ME for Allegan, Livingston, Kalamazoo and Muskegon counties, was given the award for making dozens of referrals for tissue and eye donation, contacting Gift of Life Michigan or the Michigan Eye-Bank to find out if someone was a registered donor or seeking authorization from their families. In fact, a quarter of all referrals to the Sparrow Medical Group originated from the Ingham County Medical Examiner’s office. Because of this, Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank regard Dr. deJong as their top champion in the medical examiner field statewide.

Steve and Heather Baldwin, Port Huron

Steve and Heather Baldwin of Port Huron are Gift of Life volunteers who have visited Secretary of State branches in the Thumb area nearly 400 times over the last three years and have encouraged nearly 10,000 people to sign up on Michigan’s Organ Donor Registry. Their son Dan received a liver transplant in 1995. “We thought we had lost our son at age 10, but now we've had an extra 19 healthy years - and counting - with our son because someone made the decision to be an organ donor and provide him with a transplant," Heather Baldwin said. "It was an amazing miracle. We've also had the good fortune to meet the family of the girl who was our son's donor. She and our son were only two weeks apart in age. We have bonded with them, and I'm so grateful they been able to see the life they saved.”

Beverly Butler, Grosse Pointe Woods

Beverly Butler’s daughter Rebecca, a Wayne State University student, died in 2011, waiting for a lung transplant after being diagnosed with severe pulmonary hypertension. Rebecca had been actively involved in WSU’s Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and shared her story with her sisters. After her death, Butler and the sorority sisters spearheaded efforts to raise awareness of the issue, including spearheading the annual Gift of Life Campus Challenge, in which colleges and universities compete to register the most names on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. With Butler’s assistance, the Alpha Gamma Delta sisters have signed up hundreds of people to the registry and together they continue to promote organ, tissue and eye donation.

Marquette General Hospital

The Marquette General Hospital earned the award for its work in a sensitive organ donation case that has made headlines around the world. Sanaz Nezami, 27, an Iranian citizen, was a student at Michigan Technological University when she was assaulted so brutally by her husband in December 2012 that she would never recover. The hospital was able to track her family down in Iran and, using online technology, allowed her family to see Nezami and offer some comfort in her last hours. Family members, who said they wanted Americans to know that Nezami loved America, authorized the recovery of her organs so she could impact the lives of several other people through organ and tissue donation.

Michigan Donor Family Council

The Michigan Donor Family Council was given the award based on the group’s work supporting family members of donors and encouraging more people to join the donor registry. Council CEO Patty Jo Herndon said council members are honored to be recognized for their work supporting organ donation efforts, especially because of their personal experience with donation. “Each of our members has personally been touched by organ, tissue and/or eye donation,” she said. “We bring donor families, recipients and advocates together to educate and increase awareness of organ, tissue, and eye donation and transplantation in honor of donors who gave the greatest gifts of life, sight and mobility.”

Dr. Joyce deJong, Medical Examiner for Ingham, Muskegon ETC Counties

Ingham County Medical Examiner Dr. Joyce deJong, who also serves as ME for Allegan, Livingston, Kalamazoo and Muskegon counties, was given the award for making dozens of referrals for tissue and eye donation, contacting Gift of Life Michigan or the Michigan Eye-Bank to find out if someone was a registered donor or seeking authorization from their families. In fact, a quarter of all referrals to the Sparrow Medical Group originated from the Ingham County Medical Examiner’s office. Because of this, Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank regard Dr. deJong as their top champion in the medical examiner field statewide.

Steve and Heather Baldwin, Port Huron

Steve and Heather Baldwin of Port Huron are Gift of Life volunteers who have visited Secretary of State branches in the Thumb area nearly 400 times over the last three years and have encouraged nearly 10,000 people to sign up on Michigan’s Organ Donor Registry. Their son Dan received a liver transplant in 1995. “We thought we had lost our son at age 10, but now we've had an extra 19 healthy years - and counting - with our son because someone made the decision to be an organ donor and provide him with a transplant," Heather Baldwin said. "It was an amazing miracle. We've also had the good fortune to meet the family of the girl who was our son's donor. She and our son were only two weeks apart in age. We have bonded with them, and I'm so grateful they been able to see the life they saved.”

 

2013

The Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers have long been supporters of organ, tissue and eye donation. The Tigers host an annual Donate Life game organized by the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan and its partners, including Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank. In 2012, the Detroit Tigers allowed Jai'Wan Davis-Harbour, an 11-year-old who had been waiting to receive a kidney transplant, to throw out the first pitch at their July 17 Donate Life game. By the time of the game, Jai'Wan had received his transplant, which allowed him to play baseball, something he had longed to do. The Tigers helped honor one of their own who became an organ, tissue and eye donor. In February 2012, their community affairs coordinator, Kristen Joe, died following an asthma attack. Kristen, 28, was able to save four lives as an organ donor and helped many more as a cornea and tissue donor. Kristen was chosen to have her image on the Donate Life Rose Parade float in California. In December, the Detroit Tigers hosted an event at Comerica Park at which her family was able to put the finishing touches on her picture, or "floragraph," before shipping it back to Pasadena for the float.

Dr. Reginald Eadie, Detroit

Dr. Eadie, the Detroit Medical Centers Sinai-Grace Hospital president, is a board certified emergency medicine physician. He began to promote the message of organ and tissue donation with Gift of Life's Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) during his tenure as president of DMC Receiving Hospital, and he continues the effort today. He has served as the honorary chairperson for the MOTTEP LIFE Walk/Run, written articles to promote organ and tissue donation, and conducted the first Donate Life flag raising ceremony at DMC Receiving Hospital to commemorate Donate Life Month and highlight DMC employees who were transplant recipients and donor families. In May 2011 he was named one of the 25 Most Influential Black Physicians in Detroit.

Bill Ryan, Grand Rapids

Bill Ryan is president and CEO of the Transplant Games of America. In 2011 the National Kidney Foundation cancelled its Transplant Games, but Ryan stepped in to revive the event. More than 1,000 athletes from every state in the union came to Grand Rapids in 2012 to compete in Olympic-style athletic events. Most were organ recipients. Ryan also serves on the board of directors for the West Michigan Sports Commission. Bill is president of Ryan Marketing Group Technologies, an event project management company with over 25 years of experience on world class events including the NCAA Final Four ®, FINA World Swimming Championships and FIBA Men's World Basketball Championships.

The Perry family, Northville

When Cassandra Perry was diagnosed with the cornea disease Fuch's dystrophy in 2008, it was more than just her vision on the line. As a single mother of two children, Cassandra was the sole source of support for her family. Her only option was to undergo bi-lateral cornea transplants. Today Cassandra and her family are thriving, thanks to the generosity of two eye donors. Cassandra and her children Jack and Liz are devoted volunteers who work hard to raise awareness about the Michigan Eye-Bank and the importance of registering as eye, organ, and tissue donors.

 

2012

Dr. Anita Moncrease, Detroit

Dr. Moncrease serves as the President of the Detroit Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Promotion (MOTTEP) Foundation and is also the director of the Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion Public Health Grand Rounds. In addition to being an internist and pediatrician, Dr. Moncrease is an expert in the fields of Health Policy and Minority Health Policy. Her leadership has led to the implementation of professional education programs that have expanded Gift of Life Michigan's impact with minority organ donation. This includes a partnership with Wayne State's School of Medicine and the Detroit Department of Health & Wellness. She has worked to engage the Detroit Medical Society and multicultural student organizations at Wayne State's School of Medicine to become ambassadors in sharing information on organ and tissue donation with their patient population. She has collaborated with physicians, elected officials, and public health officers to address the organ donation shortage as a public health crisis. She also frequently attends community meetings where she promotes awareness across all communities.

Anne Murphy, Ann Arbor

Murphy has over twenty-five years of experience in management of complex organizations, in both the public and private sectors. She has served as the Administrator for the University of Michigan Transplant Center since 2004, where she has responsibility for the performance of all organ transplant programs (heart, lung, kidney, liver and pancreas). This program is one of the largest in the United States, performing over 400 transplants annually. Ms. Murphy has been an active contributor in the national Transplant Management and Growth Collaborative. She is a member of United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Region 10's Collaborative Faculty and was an invited speaker at the 2009 National Learning Congress. Additionally, she has served as a Peer Reviewer for UNOS site surveys. Here at home, she is the founder of a collaborative effort called Wolverines for Life, which in two years has grown to a campus-wide movement involving four community organizations, the U-M Health System, alumni and student groups.

 

2011

Jerry Leismer, Waterford

Leismer, a liver recipient, was given the Shining Star award for volunteering his time visiting Secretary of State branch offices to personally promote organ donor registration. A fixture at the Oakland County SUPER!Center in Pontiac, he visits several times each month to share with customers the impact of organ, tissue and eye donation. In 2010, the SUPER!Center signed up 4,303 new donor registrants. Each day of his visit, the branch registers anywhere from 30 to 50 people. Leismer volunteers for Henry Ford Hospital's Transplant Ambassador Program and has received the 2010 Gift of Life Michigan Volunteer Recognition Award.

Don Korten and the Life & Sight Savers, Battle Creek

Korten, a member of the Battle Creek Host Lions Club, recruited volunteers from his club and other local Lions Clubs to spread the word about organ, tissue and eye donation. However, he didn't just want to do it once a year as part of 'Buddy Day' when volunteers promote this issue at Secretary of State offices. The group set up tables several times a month at the Calhoun County PLUS office to educate patrons. This effort paved the way for the Super Buddy program, in which volunteers promote the Michigan Organ Donor Registry on a regular basis throughout the year. More than 700 people have signed up on the registry since this effort took shape.

 

Former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land began the program and has awarded several Shining Stars:

 

2010

Founders Bank & Trust, Grand Rapids

Founders Bank & Trust was the recipient of a Corporate Shining Star award during the year's kickoff event. Laurie Beard, bank president and CEO, and her family agreed to donation when her son Paul died in 2005.  In support, many of Founders Bank & Trust employees added their names to the donor registry.

Range Telecommunications, Marquette

Range Telecommunications received a Shining Star award for outstanding work in promoting organ donor awareness. The company links possible organ transplant recipients and hospitals. It first joined the nationwide LifePage program in 1983, which allowed customers waiting for an organ transplant to keep in touch with transplant coordinators using pagers at no cost to the customer. It then continued connecting patients and hospitals throughout Michigan's Upper Peninsula after the national program ended in 2002.

2009

Connie Mattice, Grand Rapids

Connie Mattice received a Shining Star as the manager of trauma and organ & tissue donation programs at Spectrum Health Butterworth Campus. Under her leadership, the hospital made possible 34 organ donations in 2008, making it No. 1 in the state. She has been a Gift of Life liaison since 2001 and chairs Spectrum's organ donation committee. She also helped form the Nurses Task Force on Organ Donation at Spectrum.

 

2008

Tom Beyersdorf, Ann Arbor

Retiring Gift of Life Michigan executive director Tom Beyersdorf was awarded a Shining Star for his 16 years of strong leadership and dedicated service. Beyersdorf's extraordinary commitment to organ, tissue and eye donation includes serving as president for the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, on the board of the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation and in various capacities for the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network/United Network for Organ Sharing for 10 years.

Diana Lewis, Detroit

Diana Lewis, Action News anchor at WXYZ TV 7 in Detroit, received a Shining Star for her continuing support of organ, tissue and eye donation. Lewis and her daughters are honorary chairwomen of the Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) "LIFE Walk," a fundraising event held on Belle Isle every July to promote greater donor awareness. Lewis has been a longtime booster of the event. In November 2006, Lewis selected her favorite toppings for the "Diana Lewis Signature Pizza" at Buddy's Pizza in Detroit. Each signature pizza purchased during the month benefited Gift of Life Michigan MOTTEP

Hurley Medical Center, Flint

While celebrating its 100th anniversary, Hurley Medical Center was recognized for promoting greater awareness about the need for organ, tissue and eye donors. Until last year, Hurley had also been a site for kidney transplantation. Through its efforts, the center has increased donation rates from 10 percent to more than 75 percent. Patrick Wardell, Hurley president and CEO, remarked that the work Hurley does collectively with organ donation is a strong testament to the clinical excellence, outreach and education accomplished every day. The center also earned the Medal of Honor awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for meeting the national goals for donor hospitals. It is the largest medical center in Genesee County and was founded in 1908.

 

2007

Bill Gillespie, Gibraltar

Bill Gillespie and his family are well acquainted with the importance of organ, tissue and eye donation. In 1989, Gillespie's youngest son was a heart-transplant recipient at age 15. Tragically, the boy died of cardiac arrest while undergoing some routine tests at the hospital three years later. In 1994, Gillespie began feeling poorly and was diagnosed with liver failure. He underwent a liver transplant in 1995 and recovered. Gillespie has been a tireless advocate for organ, tissue and eye donation. He is a member of the Recipient Advisory Committee, has volunteered at numerous organ, tissue and eye donation events and organized the Henry Ford Hospital Liver Transplant Program's Annual Golf Outing. For these reasons and more, Gillespie was honored with a Shining Star award.

Lions Club of Michigan

Dedicated to community service projects, Lion Clubs throughout Michigan have stepped forward repeatedly to answer Helen Keller's charge from 1925 to be the Knights of the Blind. The Ann Arbor Lions helped establish the Michigan Eye Bank in 1957. All Michigan Lion clubs, including Lionesses and Leos, have stepped up to create and support projects assisting the visually impaired and blind. Through the Michigan Eye Bank, Lions have volunteered hundreds of hours conducting organ, tissue and eye donation education and outreach to the public at Secretary of State offices during Buddy Day each April. A Shining Star acknowledges these true champions for their unwavering community service and support.

Medical Technology Student Association, East Lansing

It began with an intercollegiate rivalry in 2003 between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. Both schools claimed they could sign up the most organ, tissue and eye donors on the state's Organ Donor Registry. From there, the University Challenge was born and grew into an annual competition to enroll donors among universities and colleges statewide. The MSU Medical Technology Student Association (MTSA) was fundamental in creating the competition, establishing rules and guidelines, generating marketing campaigns and developing a Web site to track donor enrollments. Since 2003, the MTSA has recruited more than 4,400 organ, tissue and eye donors. For its outstanding accomplishments in promoting organ donation, the MTSA was awarded a Shining Star.  

Meijer Inc., Grand Rapids

Meijer was awarded a Shining Star for its exceptional commitment to organ donation. The company created an internal Web page that educates employees about the need for donation and provides a convenient link to Michigan's Organ Donor Registry. Meijer also is taking advantage of other employee communication tools such as newsletters and a companywide letter to heighten awareness and highlight the stories of some of its team members who have benefited from organ, tissue and eye donation.  

Pam Powell, Detroit

Pam Powell is a lung-transplant recipient who has captivated people with her amazing singing voice. She performs her signature song "Wind Beneath My Wings" as a tribute to donors and their families. Powell received the lungs after they were donated by the parents of a 12-year-old boy who died following an asthma attack in 2000. Six years later at what would have been her donor's high school graduation, Pam sang her special song. She is a tireless promoter of organ, tissue and eye donation. She frequently volunteers at events such as the annual LIFEWalk on Belle Isle; ALIVE, the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan's annual fundraising and awareness event; the Annual Health Ministry Seminar; and with her church. Powell earned a Shining Star for her exemplary efforts in promoting organ, tissue and eye donation.

David Rozelle, Kalamazoo  

David Rozelle received a heart transplant in October 2001 at the University of Michigan. After recovering from the surgery, Rozelle resumed his teaching career as an accounting professor at Western Michigan University. He retired in 2007 after nearly 37 years. Rozelle has worked extensively to promote organ, tissue and eye donation with the WMU Chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, the campus' honorary accounting fraternity. Thanks to his efforts and encouragement, BAP succeeded in signing up more than 2,400 people to be organ, tissue and eye donors over the last three years, winning the University Challenge cup for its extraordinary achievements. The University Challenge is an annual competition among Michigan universities and colleges to see which institution can sign up the most organ, tissue and eye donors. Rozelle was awarded a Shining Star for his dedication to organ, tissue and eye donation and for his ability to create the same enthusiasm in others. 

 

2006

Remonia Chapman, Ann Arbor

Remonia Chapman's work as program director for MOTTEP Gift of Life Michigan - Minority Organ Transplant Training and Education Program - has led to its national recognition as a model program due to its community collaboration, partnerships and strategic planning. MOTTEP seeks to educate minority communities about organ donation and the need for donors. MOTTEP participates in more than 400 community-based events each year promoting the importance of organ and tissue donation in multicultural populations. The Shining Star award recognized Chapman for her hard work to help save lives through organ donation.

Beverly Cherwinski, Vanderbilt

As a lung transplant recipient, Beverly Cherwinski has been a tireless advocate for organ and tissue donation. She is especially noted for organizing rosebush planting ceremonies in honor of organ and tissue donors, their families and recipients. Cherwinski is founder of the Northern Michigan Transplant Group in Gaylord and is active in the Otsego Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and the American Red Cross. Cherwinski was presented with a Shining Star for her determination to honor organ donors and help promote this crucial topic.

Oliver Hale (Chef O), Grand Rapids

Award-winning professional chef, TV personality, community volunteer and kidney transplant recipient, Chef O's passion is good food and healthy living. After a heart attack and kidney failure nearly ended his life, Chef O devoted himself to eating right and teaches others the same. His cooking demonstrations help teach dialysis patients about better eating. A tireless volunteer, Chef O cooks at local centers for homeless people in the Grand Rapids area. He also supports several organizations, such as the National Kidney Foundation, and is active in transplant sports - having won medals in tennis, track and field, and fencing. He exemplifies what it means to be a Shining Star.

Alan B. Leichtman, M.D., Ann Arbor

Dr. Alan Leichtman is a renal transplant surgeon and is an outstanding supporter of organ and tissue donation. He is the medical director of renal transplantation at the University of Michigan and a professor of internal medicine. He has chaired a national committee to improve the system of apportioning donor organs among transplant recipients. He has served on numerous committees, including as chairman of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation Committee of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network/United Network for Organ Sharing. His lifetime career devotion to the field of organ transplantation is a testament to his belief in the power of organ donation to transform lives and has earned him a Shining Star.

Mary Catherine Sears, Saginaw

In need of a kidney transplant due to diabetes, Mary Catherine Sears was telling her story to a couple she had just met at a church retreat in early 2000. To her complete surprise, they agreed to be tested and the wife ended up donating one of her kidneys. Since her transplant, Sears has been extremely active as a Gift of Life volunteer, participating in more than 60 public presentations. She is a volunteer leader, an active member of the Recipient Advisory Committee, leads the Mid-Michigan Transplant Support Group, serves on the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan and participates in the U.S. Transplant Olympic Games. For all of her efforts, Sears was recognized with a Shining Star.

Lisa Ziff, West Bloomfield

Lisa Ziff appreciates the miracle of organ donation every time she looks in the eyes of her healthy daughter, Shay. When Shay was five months old, she underwent a heart transplant. This experience transformed Ziff into a tireless supporter of organ donation. Ziff educates all she meets about the importance of organ donation, has volunteered at countless events, fairs and walk-a-thons to encourage people to sign up to be donors and has given many media interviews about Shay's experience to help further publicize donation. She has helped countless people understand the importance of organ donation and was awarded a Shining Star for her efforts.

 

2005

Donor Family Advisory Committee - Gift of Life Michigan, Ann Arbor

Donor Family Advisory Committee - Gift of Life Michigan has been instrumental in establishing a number of innovative programs and services, including a peer network to help bereaved families and a thank-you card program allowing newly transplanted recipients to express their gratitude to their donor's family. Each member of the committee has a unique donor story to share, and together they have helped educate countless people about the importance of donation. The Shining Star award acknowledges the committee's remarkable works.

Cindy Giannini, Sterling Heights

Cindy Giannini made the selfless decision to donate her son's organs at the time of his death in 2002. Shortly thereafter, Giannini shared her son's story at her church, staffed tables to distribute organ donor information and arranged for a Giving Tree display at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. For these and her continuing efforts to promote organ and tissue donation, Giannini was awarded a Shining Star.

Mark Gravel, Ann Arbor

Mark Gravel's dedication to organ and tissue donation has placed the University of Michigan Health System in the limelight as one of three hospitals nationally with exceptional organ donation achievements. As the director of donation initiatives for the University of Michigan Transplant Center, Gravel has been instrumental in changing hospital policy to allow families to donate their loved ones' organs at the point of cardiac death once all measures to save the patient's life were exhausted. As a result, several dozen donations at U-M hospitals have been made possible that otherwise would not have been considered. Gravel's success has sparked similar initiatives at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids and others around the state and earned him a Shining Star award.

James Hoogeboom, D.O., Grand Rapids

Dr. James Hoogeboom's commitment to promoting greater organ donor awareness has consistently positioned Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids as one of the largest donors of organs in Michigan for more than 15 years. His efforts have also led to Spectrum Health System's recognition as the second-largest organ donor in the nation. His work has brought greater awareness to the issue of organ and tissue donation and earned him a Shining Star.

Max and Gloria Schindler, Gladwin

When Max and Gloria Schindler's 15-year-old daughter was tragically killed in an automobile accident, they generously donated her organs and tissues to help others in need. Since that life-altering event, the Schindlers have given tremendous time and effort to championing donation, including organizing rosebush planting ceremonies to honor other donors. They were recognized with a Shining Star for their selfless example, which helps others better understand the benefits of organ donation.

Bill Schwerin, Mt. Morris

Bill Schwerin understands the importance of organ and tissue donation because he is a lifelong diabetic and a kidney and pancreas transplant recipient. Schwerin was recognized with a Shining Star for his efforts to educate children about the importance of organ and tissue donation through the use of "Stuffee," a 7-foot tall, plush character based at the Flint Children's Museum. Stuffee is designed to showcase the internal organs and their functions in a manner that is medically accurate and nonthreatening to small children.

S.O.D.A. (Spreading Organ Donor Awareness), Flint

Advocates for greater organ donor awareness in the Flint area, under the leadership of kidney recipient state Rep. John Gleason, established S.O.D.A. in 2004. Through the efforts of S.O.D.A., community and religious leaders, pharmaceutical companies, hospital employees, transplant physicians, recipients and donor families have all joined together to spread the word about organ donation. It continues to expand its outreach by participating with the Flint Pan-Hellenic Council, Michigan Shriners, community health fairs and local unions. S.O.D.A's tremendous efforts certainly earned it a Shining Star.

Marie Sweeney, IHM, Detroit

In the fall of 2001, Sister Sweeney received a lung transplant. Nine months later, she was volunteering her time and energy to help others waiting for a lifesaving transplant. In 2004, Sister Sweeney convinced the Michigan Catholic newspaper to support National Donor Sabbath Weekend and had information presented to every Catholic church in the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Her example has shown many the benefits of organ and tissue donation and garnered her a Shining Star.