(Shown above: Previews of "Tree of Life" artwork, being dedicated to Alexis Bonadies & Erik Babatz)
TAMPA, FL – (July 12, 2018) – Just over two years ago, after the sudden death of fifteen-year-old Alexis Bonadies, her parents found hope in the darkness of tragedy - an opportunity for Alexis’s legacy to live on through organ donation. Alexis had registered as an organ and tissue donor while getting her driver license in Lee County only months prior to her passing. Thanks to a selfless act of generosity, Alexis saved three lives through organ donation and improved many more as a tissue donor.
Just over five months ago, following a tragic car accident, the parents of sixteen-year-old Erik Babatz found themselves in a similar situation to the Bonadies family – an opportunity for Erik’s legacy to live on through organ donation. Erik, also a registered organ and tissue donor in Lee County, was able to save five lives and improve many more through the gifts of tissue donation.
The stories of the Gifts of Life given by both Alexis Bonadies and Erik Babatz will soon touch customers in a unique way with the unveiling of a Tree of Life at the Tax Collector’s Office in Bonita Springs (on Friday, July 13th) as well as one at the office in Downtown Fort Myers (on Monday, July 16th). The Tree of Life artwork is being specially dedicated to Alexis at the Bonita Springs office, and to Erik at the Downtown Fort Myers office. These are in addition to a Tree of Life that was unveiled in April 2015 at the office in South Fort Myers, which is dedicated to Danielle Bogue, another heroic individual who saved lives through organ and tissue donation.
The Tree of Life is a permanent, visual dedication to organ, tissue and eye donation for customers who visit the office and staff who work there. By saying “yes” when asked “Are you interested in becoming an organ donor?” while receiving or renewing a driver license, customers can designate their desire to be a lifesaver, like Alexis and Erik. Members of the Bonadies and Babatz families will be in attendance at each respective unveiling event and will assist the Honorable Larry Hart, Lee County Tax Collector, with revealing the Tree of Life artwork to the general public.
Every time a customer registers as an organ and tissue donor during a driver license transaction, they will have the opportunity to sign their name on a leaf and affix it to the Tree of Life. This allows the customer to leave a lasting touch on the office mural, similar to how organ and tissue donation leaves a lasting impact on all who are affected by it. In 2017, nearly 77,000 customers registered as an organ and tissue donor through the Lee County Tax Collector's Office. The Honorable Larry Hart is proud that in May 2018, 58% of driver license customers serviced through his offices said “yes” to registering as organ, eye and tissue donors, compared to the statewide average of 50%.
One organ donor can potentially save the lives of eight people, and improve the lives of dozens more through tissue donation. Donation, with the primary exception of living kidney donation, occurs after death and deciding to register as a donor does not impact medical care should a donor become ill or injured in an accident. People of all ages can choose to donate and help others in need, and donation is supported by all major religions as a personal choice and act of generosity. Donation places no financial burden on the donor’s family.
Contact LifeLink of Florida for more information. LifeLink of Florida is a non-profit community service organization dedicated to the recovery of organs and tissues for transplantation. To register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.LifeLinkFoundation.org.
The two unveiling events will take place on Friday, July 13th and Monday, July 16th. The July 13th unveiling will begin at 745AM at the Lee County Tax Collector’s Office in Bonita Springs, located at 25987 South Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs, 34134. The July 16th unveiling will begin at 745AM at the Lee County Tax Collector’s Office in Downtown Fort Myers, located at 2480 Thompson Street, Ft. Myers, 33901.