Gift of Hope Offers Thanks to North Suburban Business For Support of Organ and Tissue Donation

In a twist on Giving Tuesday, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, normally on the receiving end of things in its work to recover and place donor organs with waiting recipients, publicly thanked a Highland Park, Ill., business on Dec. 1 for the generous way it has supported the organ donation cause.

Gift of Hope Offers Thanks to North Suburban Business For Support of Organ and Tissue DonationGary Apfelbaum of Grayslake, Illinois, received a kidney transplant in 2010 after experiencing several years of declining health due to a kidney disorder. When he received his transplant, his quality of life changed for the better, but there were still many doctor visits ahead, and he faced significant recovery time away from work.

Throughout this challenging period, Apfelbaum’s employer, David Ariano, owner of Ravinia Plumbing and Heating in Highland Park, gave Apfelbaum the support he needed until he could return to work. “David supported me through the donation and transplantation process,” Apfelbaum said. “I knew I would have insurance and a job waiting for me, which was instrumental in my recovery.”

To thank Ariano for his generous support, Apfelbaum approached Gift of Hope and urged the Itasca, Ill.-based organization to honor Ariano for his willingness to go the extra mile for an employee in need. Gift of Hope President/CEO Kevin Cmunt didn’t hesitate to act.

“At Gift of Hope, we often honor donor families who offer the gift of life and transplant recipients for the courage they show in honoring the gift of life they receive,” Cmunt said. “Gary has reminded us that employers are an important piece of the lifesaving donation puzzle. By supporting their employees through the donation and transplantation process, business owners like David Ariano are also honoring the gift of life that selfless donors or donor families have offered.”

To recognize Ariano for his selfless act, Cmunt presented him with Gift of Hope’s inaugural “Supporting the Gift” award that will now be presented to a deserving Illinois or northwest Indiana business each year. Many of Ariano’s Ravinia Plumbing and Heating employees surrounded him as he received the award. Many of them were clearly touched by the story. “My philosophy is, ‘The customer comes first, and the people who take care of the customers need to be taken care of,” Ariano said in receiving the award.

Giving Tuesday is a global day created four years ago to celebrate generosity and encourage giving. “Asking people to give is an everyday occurrence at Gift of Hope,” Cmunt said. “This event today allows us to give to someone else and to honor all Illinois and northwest Indiana businesses, many of which are unsung heroes for their commitment to make donation and transplantation possible for their employees.”