The green ribbon is a badge of honor, a symbol of giving hope and sharing life through organ, eye and tissue donation. It represents the simple act of saying yes – a small word that gives each of us the power to save up to eight lives and improve many more.
What, then, is a Green Ribbon Champion? The answer is not what, but who. Green Ribbon Champions are a diverse group of local leaders and well-known personalities who are passionate about increasing the number of registered organ donors in our communities across Kansas and Missouri. Each Green Ribbon Champion wanted to be involved with our campaign to make a difference. Each understands the importance of lifesaving and life-changing organ, tissue and eye donations. And, each has a story to share with you.
Alonzo Jamison | Kidney Transplant Recipient & Former Kansas Jayhawks Basketball Player
As a member of the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team that reached the 1991 NCAA tournament, Alonzo Jamison achieved a level of success that most athletes can only dream about. But his biggest victory came decades later, during a very difficult time in his life. Battling end-stage kidney disease caused by diabetes, Alonzo depended on dialysis to stay alive. Each night, for up to 11 hours at a time, he hooked himself up to the dialysis machine so it could perform the functions his failing kidneys no longer could. Eventually, doctors told Alonzo he needed a kidney transplant to survive, and time was running out.
“He’s like my twin brother. I don’t think he really understands what he has done for me. I have three daughters and two stepdaughters. I would like to see them grow up into people like Shekinah—people who care a lot about others.”
– Alonzo Jamison
Then, Alonzo received a lifesaving assist from a complete stranger. Shekinah Bailey of Wichita, Kansas – an Army veteran who knew Alonzo’s wife Colleen from work – heard about Alonzo’s situation via a Facebook video and made a heroic decision. After tests revealed Shekinah was a living kidney donor match for Alonzo, the two underwent successful donor and recipient transplant surgeries. Nearly two years later, Alonzo and Shekinah are leading full, healthy lives, forever connected by the gift of organ donation. Both men are actively working to raise awareness of living and deceased organ donation, and they encourage others to join the organ donor registry. Currently, nearly 100,000 people are waiting for kidney transplants, and approximately 20,000 more await other organ transplants.
“The biggest upside to organ donation is changing somebody’s life. There are very few things you can do that make such a big impact on someone’s life for such a small cost.”
– Shekinah Bailey
Alonzo played power forward for the Jayhawks (1989-1992). After leaving KU, he became a high school and college basketball coach, which he continued for more than five years before he had to stop working for several years to focus on his kidney treatment. Today, he works in sales for 360 Document Solutions, a Kansas-based document management and technology company. Alonzo and his wife, Colleen, live in Tecumseh. He has three adult daughters and two adult stepdaughters.
Shekinah spent eight years in the U.S. Army and has worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for five years, where he assists in the development of rural telecommunications and distance learning/telemedicine projects. Shekinah grew up in Cheney, Kansas, and has extended family in Wichita area.
Watch Alonzo and Shekinah share their story in the video below:
Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff | Miss Teen USA 2017
At just 18 years old, Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff, Miss Teen USA 2017, represents a new generation of advocates. Sophia has a close family connection to organ donation. Her cousin saved and improved lives as a tissue and organ donor, and when she reads letters of gratitude from those whose lives he touched, she is reminded that all it takes is a simple yes. That experience, combined with her mother’s influence as a nurse, her father’s community healthcare foundation work and Sophia’s own passion for making a difference, have inspired her to become a Green Ribbon Champion. She hopes to make an impact by raising awareness about the need for more registered organ donors among people of all ages.
“A lot of people my age are using their individual platforms to share causes that are important and make the world a better place. With the Green Ribbon Campaign, I want people to know that organ donation is an amazing opportunity we all have.”
Sophia’s dedication to helping others can be seen in her drive to lead and support local causes for the good of the community. She recently helped establish the Community and Scholars Cooperative (CASC) to make community service fun and easy for teens. She also spent a year researching the care of developmentally disabled adults in Missouri and lobbying for better care at the Missouri state legislature.
A native of Parkville, MO, Sophia is pursuing a double major in political science and global and international studies at the University of Kansas. She also serves as Chair of the Students Rights Legislative Committee in the KU Student Senate and has a leadership role in the Pi Beta Phi sorority. Before being crowned Miss Teen USA 2017, she won the Miss Missouri Teen USA 2017 competition with one year of prior pageant experience.
Watch Sophia tell her story in the video below:
Bryan Busby | Chief Meteorologist, KMBC 9 News
With a career spanning 30+ years in Kansas City, Bryan Busby, Chief Meteorologist at KMBC 9 News, has a trusted reputation for keeping people informed and safe during severe weather. His dedication to accurate reporting comes from his firm belief that knowledge is power—and that sharing knowledge can save and improve lives.
Bryan once had some misconceptions about his eligibility to be an organ donor, thinking his diabetes would prohibit him from joining the donor registry. When he learned that anyone can register—regardless of age, medical history or any other factor—and that more African Americans are needed on the donor registry, he registered right away. Now, Bryan is dispelling common myths and misconceptions as a Green Ribbon Champion, and he is encouraging everyone to give hope and share life by becoming registered organ donors.
“[Joining the donor registry] is really simple. Go online, click the box, 45 seconds to answer a few questions, and you’re done. You’ll feel good knowing your decision is going to help somebody else. It’s no different than making a monetary donation to a good charity, but this gift is priceless.”
Considered one of the premier broadcast meteorologists in the country, Bryan has won eight Emmys and received numerous additional accolades throughout his career, including Role Model of the Year from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City. In addition to his dedicated involvement in charity efforts, Bryan is also active in local musical arts, serving as a talented voiceover artist for various projects, principal timpanist for the Kansas City Civic Orchestra and the principal guest conductor of the Kansas City Youth Symphony.
Watch Bryan’s story in the video below:
Jeff Jones | President and CEO, H&R Block
With 2018 marking the 15th anniversary of his father’s living-donor kidney transplant, Jeff Jones, our first Green Ribbon Champion, has a deeply personal connection to organ donation. His father is a kidney transplant recipient, and his aunt was the living donor who saved his father’s life. Jeff is sharing his family’s story to encourage others to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor.
“When I think about the 15 years that have passed since my father received his kidney transplant, it really puts the lifesaving factor into perspective. Without that gift from my aunt as his living donor, it’s very unlikely my dad would have been here to see my kids grow up.”
As an inspirational leader focused on innovation, Jeff joined H&R Block and our community in 2017 after serving in executive positions at several top U.S. and global companies in the retail, consumer products, agency and technology industries. In addition to his role as president and CEO of Kansas City-based H&R Block, he lends his time and talents to community outreach, having served non-profits such as Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center and others over the years.
Watch his story in the short video below:
We invite you to join us as we inspire others to give hope and share life through the generous gift of organ, eye and tissue donation. Learn more about the types of donation, including the option to be a living donor, and the incredibly positive emotional experiences for the donor and recipient alike.
Join the Organ and Tissue Donor Registry today at ShareLifeMidwest.com.