JERSEY SHORE - The Jersey Shore Future Business Leaders of America held a school assembly on Dec. 11 to promote awareness of the FBLA State Project, Donate Life PA. Donate Life PA is an organ procurement organization which provides individuals with life-saving organ donations.
Organized by Cody Allen, Jersey Shore's FBLA president, and Gabrielle Antonicelli, senior-vice president, the assembly had several guest speakers to promote organ donation awareness.
Dwendy Johnson, the Gift of Life community relations coordinator, spoke to the students regarding organ donation and caught the students' attention with key facts. "Eight lives can be saved by one organ donor," she said. "While alive, an individual can donate part of their liver, a kidney, or the bottom lobe of their lung ... Organ donation does not take into account race, social status, wealth, or any level of fame."
Shown are the guest speakers and FBLA officers from the Donate Life PA assembly at Jersey Shore Area High School. Shown, from left, are Dwendy Johnson, Donate Life representative; Becky Stiles; Jacob Stiles, heart transplant recipient; Becca Barrows, vice president; Jennifer Christian-Historian; Gabby Antonicelli, vice president; Cody Allen, president; Cortney Steinbacher, treasurer; Madalyn Charnego, reporter; Lydia Yorks, vice president; and Joyce Shufelt, donor family.
Along with her informative speech, Johnson brought with her a quilt containing patches created by donor families. This quilt, representative of the network which organ donation creates, stood to be viewed as the students entered the auditorium. Johnson's key encouragement was for students to sign up to be organ donors when they get their driver's license or by going online to sign up, which can be accomplished within 30 seconds. PA FBLA's state project theme this year is "Saving Lives 30 Seconds at a Time."
Another guest speaker was Sandy Koleno, a Jersey Shore health and physical education teacher, and her sister, Joyce Shufelt. Both sisters spoke of their experience of becoming a donor family after Joyce's daughter passed away unexpectedly three years ago. They shared the importance of sharing your organ donation wishes with your family members.
Additionally, Jacob Stiles, a former Jersey Shore student, and his mother, contributed to the speakers' list. Jacob, a 16-year old heart-transplant recipient and former Jersey Shore student, shared the story of the transplant, which saved his life nearly one year ago. His mother, Becky, also recounted the 23 days of being on the transplant wait list, which is an extremely short amount of time compared to others.
Seeing how organ donation had touched local individuals - especially a fellow student and teacher, truly hit home with the student body.
The entire assembly was well received, a fact reflected by the positive comments given by all involved.
The Jersey Shore FBLA plans to continue their mission to promote organ donation awareness by encouraging all individuals to register as organ donors and raise awareness of this important issue.
To register as an organ donor, or to learn more about organ donation, visit www.donatelifepa.org or call 888-DONORS-1 to speak with an organ procurement organization.