Foundation Focus: Hockey with Heart

Two men and a woman with their arms around each other in front of a diner
Anyone who knew Cody Baron would expect to see his picture beside the words ‘selfless’ and ‘generous’ in the dictionary.  

“He lived each of his days with joy, laughter, and vigor,” said his mother, Wendy Smith. “He had a sense of innocence and a mission to make the world a more loving and beautiful place.” 

When Cody’s life was tragically cut short, he continued his legacy of kindness and generosity by becoming an organ and tissue donor on March 31, 2016. He was just 24. His gifts saved seven lives and helped dozens more, including Chris Kowalski, the recipient of Cody’s heart.   

“Without Cody’s Gift I might not be here today,” said Chris. “It is the ultimate gift and blessing as I now live for two people.  Myself and Cody are together, beating as one.  I do all I can to honor him and his memory each day” 

Now, Kowalski, Wendy and her son, Nic Baron, are working with the Gift of Life Foundation to keep Cody’s memory alive and to spread the message of organ and tissue donation. They are partnering with Gift of Life Michigan as the Charity of the Game for the Detroit Red Wings vs. Ottawa Senators on Friday, April 1. It will be six years to the day that Chris first learned a donor’s heart was a good match for him.  

This is the inaugural season for this opportunity with the Red Wings. Guests will have access to Heritage Hall and opportunities to win a Red Wings gift basket, a chance to view warm-ups from the penalty box and the ever-popular Zamboni ride-along.  

Net proceeds from the Charity Hockey Game will benefit the Gift of Life Foundation. The funds raised will be used to support grieving donor families, as well as help transplant recipients with healthcare costs. Foundation programming also focuses on community education about organ, tissue, and eye donation.  

“We are always looking for new ways to connect with donor families, honor their loved ones, and spread the message of organ and tissue donation,” said Susan Rink, Chief of Philanthropy and Foundation Programs for the Gift of Life Foundation. “This partnership with Cody’s family and the Red Wings is special, and it will help a lot of people.” 

Space is limited to 100 reserved tickets in the Gondola Deck. To register, click here: Gift of Life Michigan Charity of the Game. 

Anyone interested in learning more about this event or setting up one of your own can contact Susan Rink at [email protected] or at 734-922-1350. 

Read more in the Gift of LifeLINES newsletter

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