Family members and friends of four people who offered the gift of life through donation joined Gift of Hope representatives at special ceremonies held in recent months to dedicate memorial park benches —Benches of Hope — that honor the lifesaving legacies of these selfless individuals. Each Bench of Hope displays the donor’s name and the inscription, “A Life Touches Others Lives on Forever.”
Madelyn Grobe was a vibrant 13-year-old who never let Addison’s disease keep her from doing all the things she loved. As a seventh-grader at Lincoln Middle School in Rockford, Ill., Madelyn enjoyed laughing with her friends, spending time with her twin sister and pursuing her passion — dancing. In February 2017, Madelyn succumbed to her disease. Through the compassionate care and support that Gift of Hope and the Winnebago County Coroner’s Office provided, the Grobe family chose to donate Madelyn’s tissue to people in need. More than 120 people in four states have received tissue gifts from Madelyn to date, and her gifts will continue to benefit many others for years to come. The Bench of Hope honoring Madelyn stands beside the Rock River along a section of the Sinnissippi Bike Path in Rockford.
Family, friends and classmates of Izaiah Franceschi gathered on Aug. 8 to dedicate a Bench of Hope in Izaiah’s honor. Izaiah, a 15-year-old high school student and basketball player at Maine West High School in Des Plaines, Ill., became a donor in May 2017. He saved the lives of five people — including a six-month-old infant — as an organ donor, and his tissue gifts have saved or enhanced the lives of many other people in more than 10 states and one person in South Korea. The infant received part of Izaiah’s liver and today is a thriving, beautiful 2-year-old. The Bench of Hope honoring Izaiah stands near the memorial tree the school planted for him on the school grounds.
On Aug. 23, family members of Springfield resident Tiffany Harrington gathered with friends, Gift of Hope representatives and community residents in dedicating a Bench of Hope in Tiffany’s name. Tiffany, the mother of three, died in 2016 and became a tissue donor. She was devoted to her family and her three children. When not working as a pharmacy technician, she spent every moment she could with her children, who range in age from 10 to 14 years old. Tiffany’s family missed her kind spirit and outspoken personality, so they chose to honor her with a Bench of Hope. It now stands near the playground in Springfield’s Lincoln Park.
On Oct. 8, family members and friends of Janiya Hines held a Bench of Hope dedication ceremony at Union Park in Chicago to honor the young donor. Janiya was a fun-loving, beautiful and brilliant 13-year-old who was known by her family and friends as having a big personality and an even bigger heart. She died in May 2017 and saved four people’s lives as an organ donor. She also has saved and enhanced many other lives as a tissue donor. Gift of Hope’s Donor Family Services team, Gift of Hope President/CEO Kevin Cmunt and former Gift of Hope Board member and current Chicago Parks Board Executive Director Willa Lang joined the Hines family for the Bench of Hope dedication ceremony