A Tri-State community is coming together this holiday season to honor people who have donated their organs.
The Indiana Donor Network held a tree lighting ceremony Friday.
This is the tenth year for the annual tree lighting which stands in Downtown Evansville near the Old National Events Plaza.
The event aims to raise awareness about the thousands of Hoosiers waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.
“The only decision my 38-year-old husband made in his death was that he was an organ donor,” says Shaylon Pierce, attending tree ceremony.
Pierce, who went in honor of her husband, who died in a car crash a year ago.
“He saved three lives,” says Pierce. “They split his kidneys and then his liver.”
The evening was set to honor the generosity and kindness of organ donors and their families.
“We’ve established this tree as a memorial for this time of year to make it a little bit festive and to acknowledge these people and to honor them for their contribution to society,” says Dr. Emil Weber, Indiana Donor Network.
The ceremony aims to raise awareness of the thousands of Hoosiers currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.
Attendees were able to decorate the tree with ornaments including some made by Evansville donor family members in honor of their loved ones who were able to save and heal the lives of others through their organ and tissue donation.
“We had a special friend make a BeMoreLikeNick ornament, the girls made some ornaments for their dad so absolutely its very special,” says Pierce.
Officials say 22 people die each day because the organ they needed was not available in time.
In Vanderburgh County alone, more than 40 people are waiting for an organ transplant.
“If some terrible event should happen and they can’t live on as a person and must die that their organs can be used for other people who can then live on and have a purpose in life,” says Dr. Weber.
Anyone can be a donor by registering their decision learning more about the process and speaking with family.
“Nick was the miracle,” says Pierce.
The tree will remain on display until mid-January.
Officials say it takes less than a minute to register as an organ donor at the BMV.