Sandwich High School Key Club created a traveling skit, then turned it into a video in hopes of convincing more people to become organ donors
Written and submitted by Dean Coe and Wendy Borsari
Their green bracelets carry the words DONE VIDA, meaning “donate life” in Spanish. Their bright green T-shirts carry three logos: Sandwich High School Key Club, Kiwanis International and Donate Life New England. They also proudly proclaim the wearer to be a member of the Sandwich High School Mythbusters.
Their mission is to bring awareness to the fact that more than 100,000 Americans are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants and many more wait for donated tissues. On average, 17 people in this country die every day—6,600 each year—waiting for organ transplants. The reason is simple—a tragic shortage of donated organs and tissues.
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This small band of dedicated, motivated and inspiring teens has become the youthful voice of organ donor awareness in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
It started in 2008 when 68-year-old Ley Coe of Sandwich, a mother of a former Key Club member, completed 18 months on the heart transplant list. Following a very complicated heart transplant, Coe contacted the Key Club and asked if any members would consider going through an organ donor awareness training with the New England Organ Bank. Nineteen Key Clubbers signed on and after they completed their training they hit the road traveling to Cape Cod high schools, community colleges and other venues to tell their story.
Their student-to-student, kid-to-kid, teen driver-to-teen driver approach was communicated in the form of a family drama centered around a dinner table conversation. In the course of their skit and with the question and answer period that followed, they dispelled the many myths about organ donation. In the end they made a plea for their audiences to sign up through the registry of motor vehicles to become organ donors when it was time to receive or renew their license. They also encouraged their audiences to talk to family members about the importance of organ donation and request that their wishes to be a donor be honored by their families.
The Mythbusters learned that these were not easy discussions to have within a family and the more presentations they made, the more they realized the depth of the misconceptions that surround the subject of organ donation. In the first year more than 500 Cape Cod high school students heard the message, but it became apparent that another approach was going to be necessary if the Mythbusters wanted to reach more schools in other areas. The Mythbusters were not able to consistently donate the time from school activities, other volunteer efforts, work, sports and studies to expand the program.
On August 15, 2009, the Mythbusters learned that their founder and passionate leader, Ley Coe had unexpectedly died of heart complications. In the fall, as classes resumed, the Mythbusters faced the challenge of continuing a program for which they had great passion, but they were feeling the weight of Coe’s absence.
The group decided that if the program were to survive another means of delivery of the important information would be required. The time commitment and advanced scheduling of travel to schools was simple to demanding on their busy schedules. It was decided that they would capture their dinner table conversation skit on tape and disseminate it as a donor awareness kit to schools.
Coe’s husband, Dean, a member and former president of the Sandwich Kiwanis Club and their daughter, Wendy, a 1985 graduate of Sandwich High School and former Key Club member joined the group to fill the void left by Ley. With the help of the Key Club advisors and the staff at the Sandwich Community Access TV studio a production was completed and is now ready for dissemination through the PegMedia Network. It is now possible for this uniquely personal program to be downloaded and viewed through any cable TV service in the United States and internationally.
The Sandwich High School Key Club invites other Key Clubs to join in this vital program of organ donor awareness. All support materials for handouts are downloadable at www.sandwichmythbusters.org.
Green DONE VIDA bracelets are available to Key Clubs for handouts as well. Visit the website for more information.