PITTSBURGH, May 22, 2016 –

The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) honored the families of organ, tissue and cornea donors during its annual A Special Place ceremony at the organization’s headquarters in O’Hara Township. Approximately 1,000 people attended the event, which recognized the amazing generosity of donors, who gave others a second chance at life through organ tissue and cornea donation.

“When we lose a loved one, it is deeply felt throughout families, and by friends, colleagues and neighbors. That loved one’s entire support network grieves. Through organ, tissue and cornea donation, that loved one can also continue to affect even more people in a different way—by saving and enhancing their lives,” said Susan Stuart, President and CEO, CORE. “Each year, A Special Place is a moving event where we come together to celebrate hope, remembrance and renewal, and show our gratitude to our donors and donor families.”

Prior to the ceremony, family members pinned quilt squares in remembrance of their loved ones. Stories of transformation and hope were shared during the ceremony. Jamie Gibson shared how her daughter, Faith, was able to regain normalcy in her life – playing soccer with her older sister, for example – after receiving a heart transplant. Kyree Beachem’s family took a long-hoped-for family vacation to Florida because she is in good health after receiving a multiple organ transplant, said her mom, Nan Beachem. Evelyn Morales shared the heroic story of her daughter, Arianna, who gave the final yet enduring gift of life as Kyree’s donor.

Musical performances featured the Southminster Ringers; vocalist Janina Simone and bagpiper Charles Gledich. A musical tribute also was played as a member from each donor family stood to receive a special remembrance on behalf of those who received a second chance.

“The people forever touched by organ donation know its power, and their stories help us to advance our mission and end the wait for people in desperate need of a life-saving transplant,” Stuart said. “If each person registers to be an organ, cornea and tissue donor, we can help end the wait and bring hope to those in need of a transplant.”

More than 121,000 people nationwide are waiting for a life-saving transplant. Each donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and improve the lives of nearly 50 people through cornea and tissue donation.