Marissa Walker works in the Marketing & Communications Department at Southwest Transplant Alliance. She attended the Dallas Pride Festival in June.
Outlive Yourself Foundation supports the mission of Southwest Transplant Alliance.
On June 1st, I had the privilege to join Donate Life Texas with volunteers and staff from STA and LifeGift at Dallas PRIDE in Fair Park to share the message of organ, eye and tissue donation. Our main message: dispel a widely-held belief in the LGBTQ+ community: I can’t give blood, so I can’t be an organ donor.
So I donned my rainbow tutu as thousands of people flowed past our booth.
PRIDE brings one of the friendliest crowds I’ve seen, and most were generally excited to talk, spin the prize wheel, get a “MY PRIDE LIVES ON” temporary tattoo and ask questions about donation. At the end of the day, 57 people joined the Texas registry for the very first time – by far the highest registration event we’ve had all year.
What most resonated were the people who walked by our booth, saw the words “organ donation” and visibly ruled themselves out. “I’m not allowed,” they’d scoff.
But then…they would stop.
Sitting at front-center of our booth was a photo of STA volunteer and HOPE in Action advocate Gary Garcia with a powerful message. Gary lives with HIV and is a liver transplant recipient. His sign says boldly:
HE CAN ’t be an organ donor.
So many attendees stopped to read that sign and expressed their surprise and gratitude. One man in particular pulled us all together late in the evening as he took out his license to register. With tears welling, he said, “You don’t know what this means to me. To be included in this when I never imagined I could. You’ve made my day.”
He certainly made mine.
We can all take pride in what we do every day to save lives at STA. But I am especially proud to be a part of an organization that offers an inclusive and welcoming message of hope to every community we serve.