BUFFALO, N.Y. — Four Western New York teenagers are nominated for the 2021 American Red Cross Real Heroes Education Award for their efforts to increase the number of organ donors in New York State.
"I never would’ve thought that I would be in a place where 3,000 members from across the United States and the world have come together to support our cause and to push for increasing the rate of organ donation through legislation," said Evan Roden.
Roden, along with Grace Tapani, Henry McLaughlin and Sage Sellers, were in the Donate Life club together at East Aurora High School when they learned of the state's 37% organ donation rate.
They set out to make change by forming the Youth Coalition for Organ Donation, aiming to educate people on the organ donation process and push legislation that has people opt out of becoming an organ donor rather than opt in.
"We tried to look at ways that we could have New Yorkers really engage with what they’re doing and take a second of their time and hopefully save someone’s life with that second of their time," said McLaughlin.
All four students are now in college where they say they continue to educate people about the option to become an organ donor and await voting on their bill.