Arnold Mill Elementary School teacher Deb Havens is trying to raise awareness of 7-year-old Phillip Reece’s need for a pediatric organ donation, and hopefully cheer him up a bit.
Havens said Arnold Mill students created cards and videos to cheer up the second-grader, known as Bronco to his friends, who has been on the transplant list since last fall.
“They update their class turtles about Bronco each day, reminding them to say prayers for him,” Havens said. “They don’t understand and ask every day if Bronco will be back tomorrow, and every day they hear that it will be a long time until they see him again.”
Havens said the boy’s “courage, hope and optimism” inspired her to create an online petition to raise awareness about the need for pediatric organ donations.
“Bronco, who ironically has the most caring heart, will race over to pat a friend on the back in congratulations or race over faster to give a hug of encouragement … to say that Bronco has been a blessing is an understatement,” Havens said. “Now, his empty desk serves as a reminder of the ultimate battle he is fighting. The absence of his wheelchair in the back of the room robs the students of one way they could help their friend in his struggle.”
Bronco’s parents, Scott and Joanna Reece, are “two of the strongest, most impressive parents you will ever meet,” Havens said.
“Bronco was born with four congenital heart defects. His pulmonary artery increasingly became compromised, and he was placed on the transplant list on Nov. 9, 2012,” Havens said. “As of Oct. 21, Bronco was admitted into the hospital where he will remain until he receives this life-saving transplant.”
Havens cited research by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, stating 90 percent of people support donation, but only 30 percent know how to become a donor.
“An average of 18 people dies each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs,” Havens said.
“We must encourage families who find themselves in the midst of a tragedy to consider giving life to others through organ donation,” Havens said. “It is important that this topic be brought up often, and it is vital to Bronco that this topic be brought up now.”
A fundraiser was started in March to raise money for the boy’s heart transplant, and the family is trying to raise $30,000. As of Tuesday, the online fundraiser had collected $2,240.
The fundraiser can be found online at http://www.gofundme.com/BroncoReese.
Havens’ online petition to “create more awareness of the topic of pediatric organ donation” calls for all news and media organization to report on the topic, and had garnered 211 signatures as of Tuesday.
The petition, available on the change.org website, can be found at http://tinyurl.com/plyqsp6.