With only twelve months in a year, I am sure there are approximately 1,763 awareness months kicking off today. So many causes, so little time! But there is one that is near and dear to us in the month of April: April is Donate Life Month. Are you scratching your head because you have no idea what Donate Life Month is? That’s okay, we don’t blame you. Donate Life Month is code for Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month. This is a cause that means something to me for a few reasons…
- My uncle received a kidney transplant. It was amazing and life-changing and our family couldn’t be more grateful each and every day that he was given a second chance at life.
- My dad died waiting for a bone marrow transplant. Yes that’s different than organ donation, but it’s still donation!
- You may or may not know this, but Eleanor and I met (and founded WYG!) while working together supporting grieving families whose loved ones had been organ and tissue donors. We never cease to be humbled by those who make this incredible decision to help others in the darkest moment of their own lives.
I bring this up today because awareness months—Donate Life Month or others—are a great time to honor and remember those we’ve lost. There are a million different ways that you can do this, but here are a few ideas we have seen from the many families we have worked with over the years:
Attend an event. There are often walks, runs, and tons of other events during awareness months. Do a Google Search to see what is happening in your area.
Wear memorial swag. If you attend a walk, run, or any other event, you may want to make it obvious that you are doing this in memory of someone. This could mean designing a shirt, wearing a pin/button, holding a photo or sign, etc. Not everyone loves to be showy, so you certainly don’t have to do this… but it can be a great way to show off that you are at this event in memory of someone.
Plan an event. If there are no events happening in your area, plan an event! This can be a bit of work, but it can be a lot of fun if you’re the event-planning-type. Raising awareness for a cause your loved one cared about, about a disease they had, or—in the case of organ and tissue donation—an amazing thing they did can be a great way to continue bonds with your loved one and carry on their legacy. Your event could be as small as an awareness table at your church, school, etc. or as large as a run, bull roast, golf tournament, etc.
Volunteer. This could be at an event or simply helping with office work for a local organization connected to the cause. Think outside the box: If your loved one loved women’s history, check for related events happening at local libraries, schools, etc. that you could help with during Women’s History Month. If that doesn’t pan out, look for programs that offer mentorship to young women and see if they need volunteers. You get the idea.
Spread the word. Though there are approximately a zillion awareness days, weeks, and months out there, they all have one common goal: AWARENESS! You can be part of that and you can do it in memory of your loved one. Share information on social media about the cause and, if you’re comfortable, share with others that you are doing it in memory of your loved one. Wear an awareness pin or an awareness color. Don’t be shy. Remember, it is often your loved one’s story that may inspire someone else to take action—whether it’s getting screened early for a disease, making a donation to further a cause, signing up as an organ and tissue donor, learning more about a cause your loved one was passionate about, etc.
Check for challenges. After the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, tons of other causes have jumped on the bandwagon with their own challenges. A great example challenged women to do self-breast exams and to share their commitment on social media. Check to see if a cause near and dear to your loved one has a challenge running during their awareness month and get involved.
If organ and tissue donation is a cause near and dear to you, get involved this April. If your loved one helped others through donation, you may want to share this with others—continuing your loved one’s legacy of hope and generosity.
On April 17th, you can wear blue and green for ‘Blue and Green Day’ in support of organ and tissue donation. If you wish to volunteer or attend a donation-related event, you can contact the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) in your state to ask about what is happening in your area. And if you’re looking for a social media challenge, share a photo of a heart (a heart you see, find, or create) with the reason you support organ donation and hashtag it #showmeyourheart. Then, challenge others to do the same! See more information about the challenge at https://showmeyourheart.net.
These are just a few ideas, so please share what you have done for awareness days, weeks, and months in memory of your loved one! You can check out what we did for Overdose Awareness Day here and here. You can also check out this post where I attempted to do a little education about bone marrow donation here.
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