Symia and Lamyh Wilson, LIVER RECIPIENTS
Symia and Lamyh Wilson,
Awards & Recognitions
Do you know someone from Greater Cincinnati who deserves this recognition?
Throughout our community there are people who are Champions for Donation who are helping to improve donation outcomes through their work within the hospitals. In Greater Cincinnati, there are individuals who have chosen to use their voice and their personal story to promote the importance of donation and encourage others to designate themselves as donors.
Each year, LifeCenter accepts nominations for these Champions and announces the winners at our annual Community Breakfast. Each year, more than 400 people from local hospitals, companies and other organizations attend this event to celebrate donation and recognize those in our community who are making a different through their actions and attitudes. Each year the Community Breakfast is held the Thursday before Thanksgiving. See our events page for more details on date, tickets, and location.
2019 Champions for Life, Theo E. Smith Awards & Legacy Award
Dr. Ahmad Mirza Theo E. Smith Award
Dr. Mirza is a Fellow in Abdominal Transplant Surgery, University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He has been instrumental in connecting LifeCenter's staff to the Muslim Community. He has advocated for awareness of Organ, eye and tissue donation within the Muslim Community. He recently connected LifeCenter the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati where we were able to speak to over seventy-five of their members at their recent health fair.
Dr. Mirza works closely with Dr. Shimul A. Shah, who is the Chief of Solid Organ Transplantation at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Prior to coming to Cincinnati, he was the Chief Fellow in the Department of HPB Surgery, Royal Blackburn University Hospital and Central Manchester University Hospital, Manchester, UK. He is a member of the International Liver Transplant Society and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.
Wray Jump, Grant County Circut Court Clerk Champion for Life Award
Wray and her staff are always looking for ways to support and promote the mission of organ, eye and tissue donation. They participated in a yard sale and raffled off a park bench made from recycled bottle caps, with all money raised from both events going to support donation education. The team is very competitive when it comes to the Blue & Green day challenge every year and have been incredibly creative in decorating the office in support of donation! This year they turned their whole office into a Wild West adventure making sure every person visiting their office walked down the “organ” trail!!
In August 2019 Wray organized a 5K in Grant County, again with the proceeds from the race supporting donation education, she hopes to make this a yearly event. She was also in attendance at the Grant County Senior Bash handing out information about organ, eye and tissue donation, there were over 1000 people in attendance.
On October 3rd 2019, Wray organized the first Northern Kentucky Circuit Court Clerk flag raising at the Grant County Justice Center. With over 30 people in attendance it was a wonderful event and highlighted Wray and her team’s commitment to supporting and educating the community about the mission or organ, eye and tissue donation.
Wray has been with the Circuit Court Clerks office for over 20 years. She started as a deputy clerk & bookkeeper, then was promoted to Chief Deputy. In August of 2018 Wray was sworn in as the Circuit Court Clerk of Grant County. Wray has been married for 29 years, has 3 children and beautiful granddaughter.
Rick and Debbie Wieland, Donor Parents of Richard Wieland, Jr. Legacy Award
Rick and Debbie Wieland passionately and tirelessly tell their son, Ricky’s donation story. They created the Wieland Heartbeat Bears and make them for LifeCenter to offer to organ donor families at the time of donation. The bears offer a source of comfort to families by providing a way for them to listen to a recording of their loved one’s heartbeat. The Wielands also give of their time by sharing their story at schools, transplant recipient support groups and community events. They also serve on LifeCenter’s Donor Family Council providing feedback and support to the Family Aftercare program.
Most recently they took it upon themselves to begin working on a project for LifeCenter’s Donor Family Recognition Ceremony this coming April. They have gathered donations and help from friends crafting keepsakes for each of the donor family members who will be in attendance at the ceremony. Rick and Debbie honor and remember Ricky in all that they selflessly do for LifeCenter and the Donate Life community.
Rick and Debbie Wieland, parents of Katie and Ricky, reside on Cincinnati’s Westside. Since retiring, they keep busy by spending time each week with their two grandsons, traveling the world and giving back to their community.
2018 Champions for Life, Theo E. Smith Awards & Outstanding Hospital Award
Alexis Rogers, WLWT Theo E. Smith Award
Alexis Rogers is a local television reporter with WLWT TV. She has worked with LifeCenter for the last 2 years to share a variety of stories about the impact of organ, eye and tissue donation. Alexis has covered stories that focus on all ethnic backgrounds thereby illustrating that Donation affects all people.
She connects with the subjects of her stories and conveys the thought and feeling of what they are experiencing either as a Donor Family or from the Recipient's perspective. She has worked on stories that if not told thoroughly, could negatively impact some individuals' perspective about donation. She has educated our diverse community while also telling compelling stories of how Donation knows no color, age, sex etc...
Alexis Rogers joined WLWT in August 2016. She came to WLWT from KATV in Little Rock, Arkansas where she was a reporter and fill-in anchor.
While at KATV, Alexis was nominated for a Mid-America Emmy for her reporting on the eclectic history of 9th Street.
She reported extensively on Malik Drummond, a 2-year-old who captured the nation’s attention when he went missing, as well as the ins and outs of Arkansas Education, especially the Little Rock School District.
Before Little Rock, Alexis worked for KOMU-TV in Columbia, Missouri as a reporter and anchor.
She also worked for Newsy.com where she anchored and produced multifaceted videos for clients like TIME Magazine, Huffington Post and AOL.
Alexis is a proud Tiger. She graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism (Mizzou) with a B.A. in Radio-Television Journalism.
While in college, Alexis worked as a reporter for Columbia's NPR affiliate KBIA-FM, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment in Chicago and NBC Washington.
She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and founder of I.M.A.G.I.N.E., a mentoring program for young women. Alexis is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Lauren Dick, Transplant Social Worker with UC Health Champion for Life Award
Lauren Dick's enthusiasm and dedication to donation and transplantation is evident in all that she does to support the mission. Lauren is a transplant social worker at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. While she spends her days supporting and advocating on behalf of the recipients and their families within her organization, she graciously extends her talents to help the Aftercare Department at LifeCenter.
Lauren regularly assists in obtaining information, which helps the Aftercare Coordinators to provide donor families with updates about how their loved one’s recipients are doing. Families who request these updates often report this information to be comforting and helpful in their grieving process. Additionally, Lauren helps non-local donor families as well, since other Aftercare Programs reach out for updates on local recipients. Because of Lauren’s timely responses, staff at other OPO’s across the country have commended her on providing updates so quickly.
Lauren is proactive, motivated, and her wealth of knowledge extends far beyond most. Thank you, Lauren, for being a resource, an advocate, and a champion for organ and tissue donation.
Lauren Dick is a transplant social worker for liver, kidney and pancreas recipients at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Diana Hughes, Application Coordinator with Mercy Fairfield Champion of Life Award
Diana has not only been touched by donation in her personal life, but strives to educate her staff, hospital, and community on the importance of organ, tissue, and eye donation. Serving as our Mercy Fairfield liaison, she works consistently to support LifeCenter's mission and is always available for donation cases.
She has driven home the message of organ donation so much so that her grandchildren have presented and spoke about donation at flag raisings and at high schools.
Diana is the Application Coordinator for Mercy Fairfield.
UC Health Outstanding Hospital Award
In the past year, UC Health, through its partnership with LifeCenter, has drastically changed the lives of over 250 people through organ, eye and tissue donation! LifeCenter is proud to honor UC Health with the Outstanding Hospital Award for the Workplace Partnership for Life/HRSA campaign.
2017 Champions for Life, Theo E. Smith Awards & Outstanding Hospital Award
Danette Jones Theo E. Smith Award
Danette has a magnetic personality, warm smile and positive energy. We learned that Danette had been waiting for several years for a kidney transplant while doing dialysis nightly. Despite those difficult circumstances and health challenges she always smiled and remained positive, active and determined as ever.
She always speaks about her faith, love for family and life and what is meaningful to her - much of which are the small things that many of us take for granted. Danette believes in the importance of educating everyone around her about kidney disease and that she is committed to doing so with anyone she comes in contact with on a daily basis. She leaves you thinking that our response is ALWAYS more powerful than our circumstance.
What is most inspiring about Danette is her selfless attitude and willingness to help others however she can in spite of her health challenges, much like Theo did during his tenure at LifeCenter – fiercely advocating while battling. Danette never stops smiling and pouring into others. Danette is a bright light who has continued to help raise awareness about organ and tissue donation by sharing her story about battling kidney disease through radio ads and actively volunteering to raise awareness.
Jericha Sheley, Transplant Coordinator with UC Health Champion for Life Award
A caring nurse with a strong ability to empathize with patients, Jericha Sheley has a true understanding of what they are going through post-transplant as she pulls from her own personal experience with her mother.
Her journey and interest in organ donation and transplantation began when her mother was diagnosed with liver disease and needed a liver transplant in 2014. While her mother was waiting for her life-saving transplant in 2014, she continued to promote organ donation; always wearing the green Donate Life bracelet and coordinating her wardrobe with Donate Life colors at all times. Since her mom's transplant, she has been an ambassador for organ donation and transplant with her current role as a Post Kidney/ Pancreas Transplant Coordinator at UC.
Often you will see her wearing donate life accessories to promote and initiate conversations while educating patients about donation. This year she spent her weekends at local Wal-Mart's selling pretzels for the National Kidney Foundation and handing out Donate Life bracelets. She raised over $10,000 for the National Kidney Foundation. She will often post her mother's post-transplant progress on the UC Health Liver Transplant Group Facebook page to motivate and inspire current and future transplant recipients. There is no doubt that she lives for this mission and that many are alive today, thanks to her passion.
Dr. Irfan Budhani, St. Elizabeth Healthcare Champion of Life Award
There are no specific letters behind a physician's name to indicate they are "credentialed" in compassion. No certification exists, in the scholastic sense, as evidence of a doctor's intrinsic sense of caring. At St. Elizabeth Ft. Thomas, we have been lucky to work alongside a physician that has demonstrated both compassion and caring in advocating for organ and tissue donation.
As the opportunities for donation are presented in the ICU, this physician stepped forth as a champion for both family and staff to facilitate a positive atmosphere concerning this gracious act. His kind demeanor and thoughtful honesty with families and their reservations has helped give them solace in a time of mourning. His encouragement of staff has allowed them to assimilate in the care of patient and family, this same great purpose. It has been with his support that they are able to refer for organ and tissue donation.
He goes above and beyond to help LifeCenter facilitate organ donation within St. Elizabeth Healthcare, for example, coming in during off hours to assist with brain death exams. His professional demeanor and extensive knowledge of critical care patients only highlights a few of his many talents. He is a true leader in the field of critical care medicine as well as pulmonology. Thus this nomination of Dr. Irfan Budhani as "A Champion for Life" literally comes from the heart.
Adams County Regional Medical Center Outstanding Hospital Award
This Platinum Recognition level award was achieved by a hospital in one of the rural counties in LifeCenter’s donation service area. Through various grass-root initiatives, donation education was dispersed throughout the hospital and community. This hospital helped to develop an educational brochure featuring local recipients and donors, bringing familiar faces to donation and transplantation. A personal favorite included a hospital a staff member who attended a local 3rd grade class room on National Blue & Green Day educating those young minds about the importance of helping others through donation.
This year’s award for a hospital with outstanding performance with community outreach and education, reaching Platinum level recognition goes to Adams County Regional Medical Center.
2016 Champions for Life & Theo E. Smith Awards
Joe & Kris Grigsby, Donate Life Ambassadors, Champion for Life Award
Joe and Kris played a critical role in ramping up team participation leading up to the 2016 Transplant Games of America. They worked cooperatively with Donate Life Ohio. They are wonderful, committed Donate Life Ambassadors who believe in the importance of the work they did on behalf of the Transplant Games. Leading up to the Games in Cleveland they helped recruit new members, facilitated informational meetings about the Games and most importantly shared their journey with donation. In working with them LifeCenter has gotten to know two very special people – a father and husband who is a fighter, competitor and double lung recipient who never quits. And a mom and wife and super spouse and who works with her husband to take on life’s challenges. They complement one another perfectly and are a great team.
Don Melillo, Donate Life Ambassador Champion for Life Award
Jericha is an understanding, caring nurse with a strong ability to empathize with patients. They adore her because they feel she has a true understanding of what they are going through post-transplant as she pulls from her own personal experience with her mom.
Her journey and interest in organ donation and transplantation began when her mother was diagnosed with liver disease and needed a liver transplant in 2014. While her mother was waiting for her life saving transplant, this young woman continued to promote organ donation; always wearing the green and blue Donate Life colors, wristband, headband and pin at all times. Since her mom’s transplant, she has been an ambassador for organ donation and transplantation with her current role as a Post Kidney/Pancreas Transplant coordinator at UC Health. Often, you will see her wearing donate life accessories to promote and initiate conversations while educating patients about organ donation/transplantation in the transplant clinics.
This year she spent her weekends at local WalMart’s selling pretzels for the National Kidney Foundation and handing out donate life bracelets. She helped raised over $10,000 for the National Kidney Foundation. She will often post her mother’s post-transplant progress on the UC Health Liver Transplant Group Facebook page to motivate and inspire current and future transplant recipients. She also launched the UC Health Kidney Transplant Group on Facebook which provides support to patients either waiting for a kidney or those that have already received a kidney transplant.
Tracy Mallery, Medical Assistant for the Transplant Team at University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Champion of Life Award
Tracy has been described as bringing life, enthusiasm and passion into the UC Health Transplant Clinic in which she works. She has created bulletin boards within the clinic to promote and educate patients about donation. She has volunteered her time to raise funds for NKF and promote LifeCenter and engage people in meaningful dialogue about what the gift of life means and how it helps so many people in need. She is compassionate and has a unique relationship with each patient. She goes the extra mile and dresses up for the holidays to bring a little cheer to her patients and is often seen sporting a Donate Life headband. She is strong proponent for donation as she educates her pts about the fact that they too can be organ and tissue donors. To date, she has personally registered more than 50 people in the clinic to be donors, people who otherwise assumed they were not eligible. And this summer she volunteered at the Transplant Games to support her patients and also the vision for the Games. She truly puts her all into organ, eye and tissue donation.
Kathy Goode, LifeCenter Staff, Theo E. Smith Award
Kathy is passionate about working within the African American community to provide awareness, education and motivation about the need to for more donors and having frank, honest discussions about the myths that sometimes hold people in fear about making the decision to donate. She takes enormous pride in sharing the knowledge and experience she has gained during her time at LifeCenter with everyone she connects with at the many health events in which she works. Her passion for our mission coupled with her beautiful personality and spirit make her a natural advocate. She is a woman of tremendous faith in all aspects of her life and truly sees the best in all people, even when we may not see it within ourselves.
2015 Champions for Life & Theo E. Smith Awards
Robin Fox of Mercy Health, Champion for Life Award
Robin Fox is the “Mercy Mission” and is an extraordinary advocate for her patients. As one of the charge nurses in the ICU she educates her colleagues about the importance of timely response to clinical triggers and also works closely with families who want to understand more about the donation process. Additionally, she has continued to immerse herself in donation and transplantation by attending the Assoc. of Organ Procurement Organizations national meeting in 2015. With a record number of nominations, Robin Fox of Mercy West is deserving of the 2015 Champion of Life Award.
Brad Johansen of Local 12 News, Champion for Life Award
This Champion for Life is started out by covering a unique and sweet love story and quickly that story evolved into the chronicling of Sam Boling’s story of receiving the call after waiting for four years that she would receive a life-saving double lung transplant. Brad Johansen continued to update his viewers about Sam from her being airlifted from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to Cleveland Clinic for transplant to her recovery which included the ups and downs that many transplant patients’ experience. His stories were touching and authentic and showed viewers what life looks and feels like for a person waiting and then receiving a 2nd Gift of Life.
Kathy Daley of UC Health Champion of Life Award
Kathy Daley “emulates and advocates for donation on a daily basis both inside and outside the hospital setting. Whether it’s facilitating the support group for patients waiting or partnering with LifeCenter in Lawrenceburg, IN at a health fair, donation is part of who she is. It is clearly much more than a job for her, it’s her passion. She has been instrumental in implementing the red and black Donor Champion bracelets for patients and their families which bring attention to the importance of donation. She is undeniably focused on her transplant patients and supporting them unconditionally as well as being in the community to encourage and educate people to designate themselves as donors. Committed does not seem strong enough of a word to describe what she means to donation in Greater Cincinnati. If we have an idea to highlight donation she dives right in and partners with us to make it happen”. Kathy Daley is a true Champion for Life.
John Middleton of Kenton Co. Circuit Court Clerk, Champion of Life Award
Through his dedicated advocacy and strong team of Deputy Clerks, Kenton Co. John Middleton has been a leader in donor designation with more than 75,000 people saying YES to be an organ and tissue donors and more than $188,000 raised for the Trust for Life since he took office. Kenton Co. is one of the 1st counties in KY to reach a 50% donor designation rate. He works closely with his staff to promote donation and actively participates in national initiatives such as Blue and Green Day and even made the grand opening of the Independence License agency, a Donate Life focused event. The role of his agency is so important to the mission of organ and tissue donation so to have a champion who is committed to cascading that importance down to all of his staff is greatly appreciated. John Middleton is a true advocate for donation and Champion for Life.
Lynette Williams, Donate Life Ambassador, Theo E. Smith Award
During the course of this year, LifeCenter became very intentional about doing more targeted education around tissue donation and how it heals and helps thousands of people. This Donate Life Ambassador’s story was a key part to this educational campaign. Over the last year she has dramatically increased her role as a Donate Life Ambassador. In many ways this has been part of her healing process as she is and more importantly a Donor Mom. She lost her son suddenly in 2013 when he was 24. She shares her son’s and family’s story on all of the stations in the Radio One Broadcast family, whose majority audience is African American. Additionally her voice can be heard and face seen on commercials and videos that share the real life experiences of those impacted by donation. It has been amazing to watch her inspire and connect with others through her son’s amazing story. Her son helped more than 30 people as a tissue donor. Mrs. Lynette Williams is LifeCenter’s 2015 Theo Smith Award Winner.
Ft. Hamilton Hospital Donate Life Hospital Champion Winner 2015
This year LifeCenter wanted to present an award to recognize a local hospital partner who is actively making donation a part of their culture and the community they serve through marketing, registration, opportunities, education and community engagement. This year’s Hospital Donate Life Champion award is presented to Ft. Hamilton Hospital for its outstanding work in donation education and outreach.
2014 Champions for Life & Theo E. Smith Awards
Jenifer Doughman, Donate Life Ambassador Champion for Life Award
Jenifer is a fairly new Donate Life Ambassador who has jumped right in to doing community outreach and education. She does an amazing job of being in the community to share the message on the critical need for organ and tissue donation. She has put in countless hours throughout summer and fall this year to work information tables, county fairs in addition to speaking at schools and other groups. This cannot be an easy task as she is waiting on a second transplant herself, but she does not allow it to her to keep her down. In fact she says that in her role as a Donate Life Ambassador is what keeps her going. She is an amazing person, an outstanding organ & tissue advocate and she brings a true passion to the mission.
Larry Davis of Fort Hamilton Hospital Champion for Life Award
Research confirms that families who feel that they and their loved ones have been cared for by hospital staff are very likely to support organ and tissue donation in the event of death. As a Chaplain at Fort Hamilton Hospital and the Donation Liaison to LifeCenter, Davis has exhibited this high level of caring and support for families, which has resulted in numerous lives being saved and enhanced through donation. Within the last two years Fort Hamilton Hospital has had five organ donors; prior to these donors, they had not had an organ donor case for at least ten years. Davis was involved with the pastoral care of all of these donor family members. In addition within the same two years there have been twenty-six tissue donors; this is an incredible accomplishment for a hospital of this size. He is often called to the Emergency Department at all hours to comfort family members of those who experience sudden deaths and has worked very hard to learn the ins-and-outs of the donation process and is constantly advocating and educating staff around donation while supporting families through their grieving.
Ken Morgan, Northern Kentucky Youth Football League Champion of Life Award
Ken approached LifeCenter with a big goal and a plan. Create a registration initiative in the Northern KY area that would register 1,000 new individuals to become organ and tissue donors. He mobilized the Northern Kentucky Youth Football League in addition to utilizing his personal business to host registration events at Northern KY Youth football games and other events in the Northern KY area. As a result he and his team of committed volunteers met the goal of 1,000 new registrants and increased awareness about the importance of donation. His desire to do this was personal. Justin Shumacher, a former NKYFL playe, passed away in 1992 was able to help others as an organ and tissue donor. He felt it was important to honor Justin's memory by doing this campaign in the Northern KY community.
Thomas C. Hendrix Jr., Donation Advocate Theo E. Smith Award
Since receiving his transplant from a anonymous living donor in 2010, Hendrix has become a very public voice and face of donation particularly in the African American community. His donation journey was first publicized in the Cincinnati Enquirer and highlighted his story which included meeting his donor and the friendship that has grown since. Additionally, he shares his story with others in different places including dialysis clinics throughout Greater Cincinnati. He has done television advertisements and media interviews in which the audience is primarily African American. Whatever he has been asked to do he is always willing. Tom's courage and honesty is refreshing in that he is showing the African American community, the segment of our population that suffers from the highest rates of kidney disease that there is hope for life beyond dialysis and that through transplant an active life can be restored. He is a shining example of a recipient whose quality of life has greatly improved as a result of transplant. He always shows up with a positive outlook on life, an infectious sense of humor and a smile that lets you know that he is living the life that he was intended to live due in large part to gift he received from Jenny Hudson, his living donor, coupled with his fearless attitude.
2013 Champions for Life & Theo E. Smith Awards
The Schnell and Grady Family, Donate Life Ambassadors Champion for Life Award
Jodi McDonald, Social Worker in the Office of Decedent Affairs Department at University of Cincinnati Medical Center Champion for Life Award
Rick Doherty, Registrar at the Mill Creek BMV Champion of Life Award
Martha Johnson, Donor Family Member and Community Supporter Theo E. Smith Award
Champions for Life:
- Ha Pham and Meloy Rickers, Atrium Hospital
- Dr. Jamila Bowers, Mercy Anderson
- Dr. Sue Poynter, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Theodore E. Smith Award:
- Ickey and Chandra Woods, Donor Parents, Jovante Woods Foundation
Champions for Life:
- Paula Franckhauser, RN, Christ Hospital Health Network
- Nancy and Jerry Hollenkamp, Aubrey Rose Foundation
- Dr. Krishna Athota, University of Cincinnati Medical Center
Theodore E. Smith Award:
- Carolyn Henry Glaspy, Donor Mom
Champions for Life:
- Dr. Erika Stalets, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
- Paul Volek, University of Cincinnati Medical Center
- Ben Brooks, St. Elizabeth Florence
Theodore E. Smith Award:
- Vickie Jackson, Donor Mom
Champions for Life:
- Debbie Hayes, Christ Hospital Health Network
Theodore E. Smith Award:
- Courtis Fuller, WLWT Channel 5
Champions for Life:
- Paul Beckman, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
- Barbara Smith
- Ruth Henthron, St. Elizabeth
Theodore E. Smith Award:
- Brenita Brooks, National Kidney Foundation
Champions for Life:
- Dr. Jordan Bonomo, University of Cincinnati Medical Center
- Kipp Leihgeber, University of Cincinnati Medical Center
- Kelly Rabah, University of Cincinnati Medical Center
Theodore E. Smith Award:
- Lincoln Ware, Radio One, WDBZ
Champions for Life:
- Ann Demmy, Christ Hospital Health Network
- Jennifer Jackson, RN, University of Cincinnati Medical Center
- Dr. David Porembka, University of Cincinnati Medical Center
- Lisa Cooney, WLWT Channel 5
Champions for Life:
- Jeff Leudders, Heart Recipient
- Claudia Mann, Donor Mom
- Dr. Lori Shutter, University of Cincinnati Medical Center
Champions for Life:
- Diane Grimes, Living Donor
- Charles Eaton, Heart Recipient
Champions for Life:
- Lois Hickey
- Elaine Barilla
- Dr. Ed Lowe, Heart Recipient