ABOVE PHOTO: From left Mike Jerrick, co-host of Fox29 Good Day Philadelphia, SUN writer Kharisma McIlwaine, Alex Holley, co-host Fox29 Good Day Philadelphia and businessman Earl Harvey were among the many guests attending the Donors Are Heroes “The Party” celebration at The Hyatt at the Bellevue on Friday April 7th. (Photo: Robert Mendelsohn)
By Kharisma McIlwaine
Last Friday, April 7th, Donors are Heroes celebrated their 15th year anniversary with style. Their annual event, dubbed “The Party,” took place at Hyatt at The Bellevue in the Grand Ballroom. An ample crowd dressed in their finest cocktail attire, gathered on the second floor balcony for a VIP happy hour. Trapeze artists dangled gracefully from the ceiling as guests sipped on cocktails and dined on hors d’oeuvres supplied by Caviar. After the VIP happy hour concluded, the crowd entered the grand ballroom for a night of dancing and a taste of some of Philadelphia’s best restaurants. Entertainment was provided by singer Jessie Kyle and DJ Eddie Tully. In honor of April being Organ Donor Awareness Month, the Party focused on dispelling myths about organ donation, creating public awareness, and encouraging more people to become organ donors.
Don and Renee Freeman, founders of Donors Are Heroes, partnered with the Gift of Life Donor Program (a non-profit organ and tissue donation organization) to put together a phenomenal event. Renee Freeman was eager to share her enthusiasm and appreciation for years of support. “We had a little thought and a little dream. This dream happened 15 years ago. Don Freeman is my husband. He had a heart transplant in the year 2000, and most of you know the story. But the story is what’s here. Our goal is to party to make money, but the real goal is to save lives. With the people in this room, we are able to do that.”
Another focal point of the evening was a brave hero in his own right, a three-year-old named Hudson. Hudson, who was born with half a heart, is in need of a heart transplant.
In addition to the long list of people like Hudson who need heart transplants, there are 4,736 people in our area alone waiting for kidneys. Jan Weinstock, Vice President and General Counsel of Gift of Life, encouraged the guests to get involved with a call to action. “This is about people helping people. It is about an individual caring enough to help another family.”
There were more than 1,400 people in our region that received the gift of life with organ transplants last year. Hopefully more lives will continue to be prolonged in the near future through the gift of organ donation. For more information and to find out how you can become involved, visit www.donors1.org or call 1-800-DONORS-1.