PHOENIX - A first of its kind celebration captured hundreds of heartfelt exchanges Sunday. The Donor Network of Arizona hosted a remembrance ceremony to honor local heroes who gave such a selfless gift.
This special event provided an opportunity for families like Katie Benton’s to reflect on the generous, and in some cases, life-saving circumstances they encountered.
"This event means a lot to my family. It's a time when we get to talk about my mom, talk about his Nana and I realize that's what every single family here is doing,” Benton said.
Families from all walks of life came together to recognize the unconditional sacrifice that their loved ones, like her mom made.
“I've met the most amazing people, recipients who are eternally grateful for the gift of life, donor families who made the hardest decision in one of their worst times,” she added.
Yet, Sunday at Steele Indian School Park, people affected like Kellye Pummill said there were tears of joy and gestures of generosity.
“It's bittersweet, you know. I miss her terribly, but it's nice to know that she lives on and she saved other people,” Pummill said.
Organizer Marcel Pincince said the casual environment encouraged everyone to embrace each moment that led to this event.
“Recipients are always asking themselves the question, 'How do I pay it forward? How do I give back?'” he said.
Through storytelling and strolls down memory lane, those impacted were able to show their gratitude.
“I've met a lot of recipients, you know. And there's that connection, because then I get to see the other side of it. I get to see how grateful they are and, you know, watch them thrive, you know, when they weren't before,” Pummill said.
Donors can choose to give everything from organs like liver and kidneys to their very own heart, without skipping a beat.
“Just know how important donation means to my family. I'm happy to be here and make that similar opportunity for the rest of these families,” Benton said.
Locals can sign up to be donors when they apply for or renew their driver's license or ID at the MVD. They can also register online at DonateLifeAZ.org.