Donate Life Award Given to Nebraskan

An Omaha family knew they were in for an uphill battle when they found out their daughter was born with a less than perfect heart.

Now, 14 years later, they are turning their personal experience into a community wide celebration that’s gaining national attention.

The Stevens’ Family journey has been difficult. "She had three open heart surgeries before she was two, did pretty well but then went into heart failure and we ended up in St. Louis in 2008 and she waited 4 months for a new heart,” Jordan Stevens said.

It was hard at first, Stevens said, dealing with those emotions. "Sort of feeling sorry for ourselves early on, like why us, why did have to happen to us and why did it have to happen to Macy,” Stevens said.

To deal with that Jordan and his wife took to running. "The running always became our therapy, we used to run in Forest Park in St. Louis daily and say hey nurse we just need to get out of here for 40 minutes to go for a run and come back with a clear mind,” Stevens said.

Stevens then decided to take he and his wife's personal therapy and turn it into therapy for others, creating what he hoped was the first of many, Donate Life Nebraska Trail Run and Heroes Walk.

"I hope that over the years, that is what people look back and look forward to it every year, to remember someone and to runs for someone's cause and to understand how important it is to be an organ donor,” Stevens said.

The first run helped register 300 people as new organ donors and raised more than $13,000 for Donate Life Nebraska.

Tuesday, the family gathered back at Children's Hospital and Medical Center, but not for a check up. Jordan Stevens was honored as the first ever Donate Life Nebraska's “Champion for Life.” It’s the first time this award was given in the state.

Like his daughter Macy, who four years ago, received her heart which served as a reminder she said, why organ donations are so important.

"How you can donate and save someone's life,” Macy said. Reporter asked, "Like yours?" "Yes, like mine,” Macy said.

The 2nd Annual Donate Life Nebraska Trail Run and Heroes Walk is scheduled for July 27th, 2013.

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