photos by Jerry McClure and Cynthia Smoot
After losing their 13-year old daughter, Taylor, in a tragic ski accident Todd and Tara Storch started Taylor’s Gift Foundation in an effort to encourage the giving spirit that she lived by. The non-profit organization is dedicated to the life-saving effort of increasing organ donor registrations and financially assist families touched by organ donation. The foundation has consistently encouraged supporters to “Outlive Yourself” ever since they were founded in 2010. On November 5, Taylor’s Gift Foundation held their inaugural “Outlive Yourself” Awards and fundraising event at 3015 at Trinity Groves. The Outlive Yourself awards was hosted by Jeff Probst, host of the CBS reality TV show, Survivor. Prost also served as Honorary Chair for this event and could not have been nicer, posing for endless photos with Survivor fans (I was first in line). I don't believe that there are any accidents in life, so I was enthralled by the fact that in the most recent episode of Survivor: Second Chances, one of the players had a teenage son who had been on the waiting list for a heart transplant. When his family got the call that a heart was available to them, Jeff had to pull Terry Deitz in the middle of the night to fly halfway around the world to be with his family. Jeff was already committed to Taylor's Gift before the show had even started filming, so we had a great chat about the happenstance of that "coincidence". Jeff said it just confirmed the importance of his commitment to organ donation and how you never know how you will be involved (giving or receiving).
So, what does it mean to “Outlive Yourself?” It’s a spirit of giving and a mindset of going above and beyond for others and living selflessly. Event Chair, Kate Dorff, had a personal connection to organ donation - her sister, Abbye, has received a heart transplant and her grandmother received a liver transplant recipient in 1994. Because of the selfless act of an organ donor, she was given another 17 years of life. At the inaugural event, Dr. O.H. Frazier, M.D. was honored for his outstanding achievements. His work and research in the medical field has revolutionized organ donation and organ transplantation. Dr. Frazier is chief of Cardiopulmonary Transplantation, program director and chief of the Center for Cardiac Support, and director of Cardiovascular Surgery Research at the Texas Heart Institute. He is also chief of the Transplant Service at CHI Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. With more than 30 years of distinguished work under his belt, he has now performed over 1,300 heart transplants and implanted more than 1,000 left ventricular assist devices, more than any other surgeon in the world. The other honoree was Karen Cuskey, co-founder of Tacky Box, an award-winning book and teaching tool for children that promotes kindness. Cuskey pursues the “outlive yourself” motto through all of her endeavors and her enthusiasm to help others is reflected throughout her accomplishments. One of the evenings most touching moments came when guests were asked to lift a battery operated "T" light in memory of Taylor (see photo in gallery above). At that moment, the skies opened up and heavy rain began to come down creating a loud pitter-patter on the roof. 'That's applause from Heaven, my friends," said auctioneer Wendy Lambert. And indeed, it felt like it was...
To learn more about the work of Taylor's Gift and organ donation, visit http://taylorsgift.org/