Secretary of State, advocates kick off Donate Life Month at Wayne State University

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DETROIT – Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and organ donation leaders kicked off Donate Life Month at Wayne State University today with music, awards and an energetic call for community members to sign up on Michigan’s Organ Donor Registry.

The kick-off also included a one-day campaign by a small army of volunteers – mostly organ recipients and their family and friends – who spread out across 80 Secretary of State offices to encourage customers to sign up on the state’s organ donor rolls.

“We made huge strides in expanding the organ donor rolls with more than 1.4 million people added in the past three years alone,” Johnson said to cheers during the ‘Heart of a Warrior’ event at Wayne State, home to the WSU Warriors. “Today, Wayne State students, faculty and community members really have shown us their heart by being willing to sign up as potential donors.”

Radio personality Ace of WKQI radio was also on hand. Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank handed out T-shirts to students.

Today’s events were part of the continued partnership between the Secretary of State’s office, Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank.

“Michigan has made tremendous progress in our efforts to save and improve lives, and we credit Secretary of State Johnson and all SOS workers for that success,” said Richard Pietroski, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s organ and tissue donor program. “Every time someone joins the Donor Registry, they give hope to the more than 3,300 people in Michigan who are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and the tens of thousands more who will benefit from tissue transplants. Every single person has the power to heal lives by making the decision to be a donor.”

Lisa Langley of the Michigan Eye-Bank said more than 1,000 Michigan residents receive the gift of sight each year. “We express our gratitude to those who have joined the Donor Registry and look forward to helping others throughout our state make the decision to join the Registry, she added.

During today’s celebration, Johnson also presented her annual “Shining Star” award to Beverly Butler, whose daughter Rebecca, a Wayne State University student, died in 2011, waiting for a lung transplant. Butler has continued to champion organ donation with her daughter’s sorority, WSU’s Alpha Gamma Delta.

“She is so inspiring, so motivating,” said Alpha Gamma Delta President Kelsey Skinner, who said Butler is really beloved and remains an “Alpha Gam mom.” The sorority also accepted the Gift of Life Campus Challenge trophy on behalf of Wayne State, which was this year’s winner in the annual organ donor drive competition among Michigan colleges.

“This is a cause close to our hearts and we could not be happier to be a part of such an empowering event,” said Skinner.

To find out more about organ donation, visit www.giftoflifemichigan.com. To sign up on Michigan’s Organ Donor Registry and to access some of the Secretary of State’s most popular services, visit www.ExpressSOS.com.

For more information about branch office locations, hours and services, visit www.Michigan.gov/sos. Sign up for the official Secretary of State Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/MichSoS and Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/MichiganSoS.

Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer service representative at 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).

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For media questions, please call Gisgie Dávila Gendreau at 517-373-2520.

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