August: Kelly Gunnels-Valines. Featured in 2023 Calendar.

August 2023 LifeCenter Calendar Story of Hope

My brother, Reco Gunnels Sr., was an amazing advocate for others, his children, his family, his friends, and the community. My beloved brother was taken from us August 24th, 2017. He was murdered as he sat on his motorcycle. What the people who were there saw was vague, and they were scared, but one lady stayed with my brother until he took his last breath. I was devastated. We, as a family, were devastated. My entire family lost our brother, our champion, who protected and always showed up for us no matter what zip code or area code we were in. He showed up for family and friends. Who would show up for him?

My brother Reco made a choice a month prior to his death to become an organ donor. He had just recently updated his driver’s license and said, “YES.” So, the decision to donate his organs was an easy one for me. Someone is walking this earth today seeing through my brother’s eyes and embracing their loved ones without pain, with new skin, because he made the decision to give life. I changed my driver’s license to “YES,” to the gift of life in memory of my brother Reco, who I see every time I touch my green Donate Life wristband, that hangs in his memory. In my position at UC Health, I get a chance to be a part of the experiences of others who are either giving or receiving organs. When God touches my heart, I share Reco’s story and I bless them with a piece of him through the very bracelet I am wearing to give them strength and encouragement on their journey to give or receive a new life, a new beginning. Reco, you are never forgotten, my little big brother.

– Kelly Gunnels-Valines

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