Donor Family Stories

Jason Ryan Bennett

Jason Ryan Bennett

Jason was born on August 18, 1978, and died on May 11, 1996. He had more enthusiasm for life than most, was fearless, smiled often, loved to give hugs, loved his friends and family, and loved being an active participant in our family celebrations. His exuberant spirit kept us all on our toes in an effort to keep him safe.

Kelly Jane Kline

Kelly Jane Kline

David C. Owen

David C. Owen

My husband David always supported Shelly's projects for the Donor Family Network, including many years working at the donor booth at the New York State Fair. He always told people donation was a good idea. He encouraged many to do it. When he passed away suddenly in 2010, we were notified by transplant team that he was a registered donor. I gave permission for anything that was viable could be used. When my daughter spoke to the transplant agency she was shocked to find out her dad had only actually signed a donor card at the State Fair that previous September (he died in October). He had worked 5 or more years at the fair and only signed one that last year. He always took his time.
Judy Owen

Robert Somerville Jr.

Robert Somerville Jr.

On August 29, 1996 I received a call no mother wants to receive. The person on the other end of the phone told me my oldest son Robby had been in an accident. I don't remember driving to the hospital and the next few days were quite a blur as well. On the 6th day the doctor called us in and said my son would never open his eyes again, he would never speak again but he would however feel pain. I asked the doctor how long could he stay like that and he replied "his heart is only 16 years old it could beat like that forever". I then asked the doctor what we should do I my son died and how could we donate his organs. The doctor would not have that conversation with me. Later that day my son did die, he was declared brain dead and we agreed to organ donation. At the time we said no to eye and tissue but if we knew then what we know now we of course would have done it different.
I was so beside myself and felt like I couldn't go on until I was asked to speak in front of a group about Robby and his gift of life. I saw all group listening to me and smiling while crying and it felt good to have them listen. I started going other places telling Robby's story. Another donor mom and I then started a support group for donor families. We would meet and help new donor families through the tough road they were now on. Now I manage the Donor Family Network as well as co manage Team Finger Lakes our transplant team. This volunteering has helped me through the last 25 years.
I've learned "In helping others I help myself"

Ashley Rose Theresa Knorr

Ashley Rose Theresa Knorr

My daughter AshleyRose who was an organ donor. AshleyRose passed away June 7, 2014. She would of been graduating from St. John Fisher College in Elementary Teaching/Special Ed. She passed away from a brain aneurysm. The worst day of my life and I relive it every day. She loved family and they adored her. She was beautiful, energetic and when you met her you would never forget her! She put everyone's needs above her own. The hard part was never being able to say goodbye. She was on life support till the very end. She was always the one decorating the house for Holidays. She loved making different meals and loved cooking. She was going with the love of her life for about 6 years his name was Josh. Her main focus was setting goals for herself and accomplishing them. She was doing her student teaching in about three of the inner city schools. VOA was one of them. She loved working with kids and they adored her. She also volunteered at the Boyscouts of America where she helped in the after school programs. To say we miss AshleyRose is a tremendous understatement as she holds part of all our hearts. AshleyRose had 2 brothers and 1 sister. She also had nieces and nephews who loved her so very much. Birthdays would be full of presents and balloons for the kids. She never forgot your birthday and would buy gifts ahead, she loved showing me what she purchased. She loved giving because it made her so happy. Her dad was Stephen which she adored so much!! I could go on and on about her. I hope one of these days I can meet one of the recipients. I know it is hard on them but that is my one wish. I was writing the last 6 years to them. To know they are alive because of her is a great joy! God Bless All! We do a Golf Tournament each year to raise money for students who are majoring in Elementary Teaching/ special Ed. We have an endowment at Fisher. The scholarship is in her name. So far we have given out 4 scholarships and 1 more this year in AshleyRoses name. We are definitely keeping her memory alive. Thank you and sending all my love to Heaven to my beautiful Angel. Love your Mom.


Mary Dunn Houston

Mary Dunn Houston

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Lucy Reff

Lucy Reff

Determined, serious, hard working, stubborn and responsible yet sassy, joking, and fun loving are some of the ways to describe my daughter Lucy. She loved animals, working with them,training them and taking care of them. She chose a career in Respiratory Therapy and was in her final semester of college at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. She was very hard-working, always going above and beyond to do her share and earn her own keep. She owned her own horse, Reba, and qualified at many fairs, showing Western and English. Even going on to compete at the state fair level. She saved every penny and bought her first vehicle, a Mustang. She even ended up getting her own truck so she could tow her own horse trailer. Again paying all by herself. Lucy had a quiet demeanor but she loved to laugh and lit up a room when she walked into it. Dance was another love that she worked hard at, taking hip-hop and eventually becoming a teacher and choreographer. Her very active life included snowboarding, snowmobiling, jet skiing, and soccer as well as horse riding.
By January of 2019 Lucy had chosen her wedding gown after becoming engaged to her 6 year boyfriend Skyler. A severe headache brought her to the emergency dept of a hospital where Drs failed to do any tests. An undetected Colloid Cyst caused severe brain damage. On Jan 15, 2019 Lucy saved 4 lives by donating her heart, liver and both kidneys.
We are fortunate to be able to know three of Lucy‘s four recipients and have contact with them. One of her kidneys went to a 50-year-old family man with two daughters very close to Lucy‘s age. His perfectly matched kidney has been able to let him see the birth of his first grandchild and return to work. He is a quiet,humble, yet fun loving man that we are very happy to know. Lucy‘s liver went to a 70-year-old grandmother who lives on Long Island. She is spunky and crafty and loves her family. Lucy‘s gift has let her have many more years with her family. Lucy‘s heart went to a 30-year-old Doctor who practices emergency room and ICU medicine. She is now working in New York City in a hospital using her and Lucy’s story to comfort her own patients. We are very thankful that this is a way to continue Lucy‘s medical career beyond organ donation.
While we are forever heart broken and miss Lucy every day we are glad she was able to help others and leave a lasting legacy.