The purpose of this non profit 501(c)(3) foundation is to promote organ donation education and awareness. In addition to the generosity of our donors, our foundation is supported through the sale of t-shirts, backpacks and key rings bearing the message "Don't Break the Circle of Life - Support Organ Donation", for the sole purpose of publicly bringing attention to this important issue. As William's mother, I travel the globe telling his story so that people will understand how quickly and easily organ failure can happen to anyone. Our videos and public service announcements can be seen on our pages at: www.youtube.com/donate4william and www.myspace.com/donate4william. They feature some of our many wonderful "Circle Of Life" organ donation awareness supporters throughout the world. All donations to our foundation are used to produce materials that bring attention to the importance of discussing organ donation with your loved ones. You can also help support us at http://causes.com/donate4william. For more information, feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com.
For more wonderful pictures and stories of people supporting organ and tissue donation by wearing the "Circle of Life" shirts please check out our facebook link below:
Michael Jobling is a resident of Pensacola, a Pensacola High Tiger, a surfer and an organ donor.
PENSACOLA NEWS JOURNAL
As the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico, 19 surfers braved the choppy waters Sunday and paddled through the waves beside the Gulf pier to join hands and recite the Lord's Prayer in memory of William McMahon. William, 16, died May 19, 2005, while awaiting a liver transplant. Before entering the water, participants and surfers involved in the fourth annual "Don't Break the Circle of Life" Memorial Paddle Out Event joined hands and recited different names of those who have died waiting for an organ transplant.
Julian Eubanks, 33, was among those attending the memorial. Eubanks experienced kidney failure at 25 and has been on a organ waiting list for eight years, he said."There needs to be more days like today, more public education," Eubanks said. "There are 100,000 people waiting for organ and/or tissue donations."
The first "Paddle Out" was arranged in 2005 shortly after William's death by his former Pensacola High School English teacher, John Murray. Murray surfed with him at 5 a.m. every day before school, William's mother, Kim McMahon, said.
People gathered to hear the stories of those who have had experiences with organ transplants. Bands performing at the Gulfside Pavilion at the "Paddle Out" provided musical interludes, often bringing members of the audience to their feet to dance to familiar tunes.
Terri Harrington, one of the speakers, promoted organ donation by sharing the story of her late husband who donated his heart, pancreas, liver and one of his kidneys. She has met three individuals who received her husband's organs, all of whom are "doing great." One person helped four individuals," she said. "Organ donation is a powerful gift."
The William Rollings McMahon Foundation was formed in 2006 by Kim McMahon after William was diagnosed with unexplained liver failure and died waiting for a liver. Money raised at the event goes to increasing awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation.
Pensacola resident Revonda Stewart, who received a donated liver four years ago from a 27-year-old man, was diagnosed with autoimmune disease in February 2004. She received her transplant in July 2004. "I'm very grateful to the person," Stewart said. "(The donated liver) allowed me to see one of my sons graduate and get married."
While McMahon did not get to see her son graduate from high school, she was encouraged by the turnout and said she plans to keep her son's memory alive through the annual event. Blake Jones, a friend of McMahon's son who had played with him in a band, sang a song he wrote titled "Unread Letters to Will," which left McMahon in tears. "I thought that people would forget and go on with their lives," McMahon said. "(The event) actually started getting bigger."
In the two years that followed William's death, McMahon said surfers and non-surfers alike would come to the "Paddle Out." McMahon since has traveled to different colleges, churches and schools to tell her son's story. "Putting a face and a name on something makes it real," McMahon said. "I've heard that 90 percent of people who donate do so because of a story they heard."
Today, from 3 to 6 p.m., the sixth annual Memorial Paddle-Out will take place near the Gulfside Pier on
Pensacola Beach. Surfers will paddle their boards out to form a circle and join hands. On shore,
friends and family members will honor William's memory through prayer, live music and stories of
the much-loved teen.
They also will honor others who have died waiting for an organ transplant and those who have
received the gift of life.
"If I can just get people to talk about organ donation with their families, it's as though I've accomplished
something," said Kim McMahon. "More than 106,000 people are on the waiting list, and those are the
Since her son's death, McMahon has been an impassioned champion for organ donation.
She created the William Rollings McMahon Organ Donation Educational Foundation in 2006, and
works closely with both the United Network for Organ Sharing and LifeQuest Organ Recovery
Services. The Delta airline flight attendant tells her son's story at high schools and colleges across the
"It's not a happy ending, but to be honest, that makes it something that people will remember," she
said. "I can't tell you how many have been touched by William's story."
It's a story McMahon never imagined she'd be telling.
William was an active, healthy teen when he developed flu-like symptoms during his Christmas
break in 2004. In less than a week, he was diagnosed with unexplained liver failure and flown
to Shands Hospital in Gainesville in critical condition.
"I couldn't believe it when the doctors said he needed a liver transplant," McMahon said. "We had
no history of liver disease in our family. It was shocking."
William received a donated liver on Jan. 2, 2005. After a successful, three-month recovery, the teen returned home and resumed surfing, playing his guitar and riding his unicycle around the neighborhood. "Things were going really well," McMahon said. "We never imagined it could happen again."
Almost five months after his transplant, William developed acute complications. Given 72 hours to
live, he died just 24 hours later, waiting for a new liver.
Maria Copeland, public coordinator with LifeQuest, said William's story packs an emotional wallop. "It's heartbreaking, but it makes such an impact, especially on teenagers," she said. "Kim and I have told Will's story to more than 10,000 students over the years. And many of them are now organ donors."
Steve Vandergriff, a Jacksonville-based television director, was so moved by McMahon's account that he created a video, "Will 2 Live: The William Rollings McMahon Story." The 20-minute film, available online at www.donate4william.org, features interviews with the teen's family, friends and physicians, plus personal
videos and photos. Vandergriff, whose father died of liver failure, said he felt as though he came to know William while making the film. "I shed many tears during the project," he said. "I hope Will's story encourages everyone to consider organ donation. Through others, you can live on."
Want to go?
-- WHAT: Sixth annual "Don't Break the Circle of Life"
Memorial Paddle-Out. Includes performances by The
Gills and DJ Russell, plus
-- WHEN: 3 to 6 p.m. today. Paddle-out at 5:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Pensacola Beach, near the Gulfside Pavilion.
-- COST: Free.
-- DETAILS: visit www.donate4william.org.
Learn more about organ donation online at www.donatelifeflorida.org.
You Can't Change the Cards You're Dealt, Just how You Play the Hand
Submitted by S_Vandergriff on Fri, 07/17/2009 - 07:02.
Think you’ve got it rough? Put yourself in Kim McMahon’s shoes: you’re the proud mother of a healthy, handsome 16-year old son who surfs, plays guitar, and earns top grades in school. Your son is popular and even selected for his school’s homecoming court. In short, your son’s future is all right there ahead of you and you’re enjoying every minute of it. Life takes an evil and devastating twist though, when your boy is suddenly diagnosed with unexplained liver failure. After a dramatic life-saving transplant and five months of a blissful return to normalcy, complications return and your son is suddenly taken ill again, fighting for his life, waiting for a new liver donor, waiting…suffering…and waiting. This time though, things go from zero-to-sixty in a mere weekend, unraveling faster than medical professionals can react to. This time your son’s promising life cannot be saved.
It would be understandable if this event wrecked you forever; no one would blame you for giving up. You could lock yourself in your house and pledge to never come out. You could let your own life disintegrate by simply not caring anymore. You could demand sympathy and make excuses to get by. But William McMahon wasn’t your average kid, and Kim McMahon isn’t your average mom. Instead, she decided that her family’s story could help others in need by promoting organ donation. She started a non-profit organization, www.donate4william.org, and began traveling the country to speak at conferences, schools, skating parks…anywhere she can reach a socially responsible crowd with the message of organ sharing.
She has traveled to Tallahassee with others to lobby the State of Florida for a new online organ donor registry, and that registry is slated for launch on July 28, 2009. Recently she was appointed to the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) Patient Affairs Committee, serving as an advocate for patients and their families. Who knows how many lives will have been saved as a result of her tireless efforts to crusade for organ donation? What would you have done, if handed the same scenario?
While you ponder that question, meet Tammy Brown. This Jacksonville mother was enjoying the all-American life: a handsome, loving husband and two healthy sons. The tight-knit family of four spent their days bonding together, even working alongside one another in the family business. One morning, seemingly just like any other, Tammy’s world imploded. Traveling to a job site in two separate vehicles, her oldest son Larry at the wheel of the car traveling close behind, her son’s auto was suddenly involved in a violent accident. Her husband was the first to reach the burning vehicle, but it was too late. One moment the family was sharing breakfast and talking about the workday ahead, the next minute, just like that…Larry was gone.
Like Kim McMahon, Tammy Brown is a resilient mother who became motivated. As she grieved for her son, she realized that other parents thrust into similar situations, particularly mothers, had to endure the same kind of pain and emptiness she felt. Though she never fancied herself as a writer, she began to jot down her feelings. The more she wrote about Larry, the accident, the Brown family’s life afterward, and her innermost feelings, the more therapeutic her words became. Eventually she mustered the courage to start blogging publicly in the hopes that she might comfort other moms who suffer the loss of their children. Titling her work as “A Mother’s Journey Forward,” Tammy’s words of encouragement began appearing on Jacksonville.com and the newspaper. Her writing is heartfelt, inspiring, and provides a true glimpse of a woman’s determination to “pick up the pieces and keep moving forward” after a tragedy.
If you’ve read Tammy’s work, you cannot help but to be inspired, and perhaps comforted if you’re faced with a similar battle. Make no mistake – she takes her writing very seriously. She even joined the Jacksonville Freelance Writers Group to meet other writers and help hone each others’ work. She has determined that her son’s death will not be the last chapter written in his life’s story.
So if you think you’ve got it rough with the economy or other personal battles chipping away at you, think about these two courageous moms who came out fighting hard after life had sucker-punched them. Whatever you’re dealing with, whatever challenges you face – stop and catch your breath…think about Kim McMahon and Tammy Brown…and prepare to take charge of your situation. How will you turn the negative into a positive? It’s not up to anyone else – just you. Life awaits your response.
|May 14, 2009
ISLAND NEWSGULF BREEZE NEWS
Paddle Out for a purpose
Event encourages organ donations
BY LISA NEWELL Gulf Breeze News firstname.lastname@example.org