Brooke Dawkins was a lot like us. She was beautiful and fun. She was young and in college, having the time of her life. When she joined her sorority, Kappa Delta, at the University of Central Florida, it was one of the best decisions she ever made. She met her sisters and her lifelong friends. She carried on a family tradition and created a family of her own in Greek life.
Brooke joined Kappa Delta Sorority her freshman year and “bid-day” was one of the happiest days of her life. Brooke considered this sorority because of her family legacy but told us she chose it because she just felt at home with the girls. They were “goofy” like her, she said. In the end, Brooke was right. These sisters are her family and being involved with KD was the best thing she did at UCF.
My senior year of college however, the panhellenic community, in addition to all of the University of Central Florida, was shaken. On February 23, 2014, the 19-year-old Kappa Delta crossed Alafaya Trail, one of the main roads near campus, and was hit by a car. Brooke passed away ten days later in the intensive care unit at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
To say it was devastating would be an understatement. We attended candlelight vigils. We hugged our panhellenic neighbors in the green house across from ours. And we comforted our own sister, Sarah, who was the best friend and cousin of the fallen Kappa Delta. It was a time that few people would be able to see the light in. But Brooke? Brooke was different. Everyone agreed. She was sensational and full of life — when she walked into a room, the energy changed. According to all of her loved ones, there was a light about her. So when she passed away, the light didn’t fade. Her family made sure of it.
When she got her license, Brooke had registered as an organ donor. She loved to help people and didn’t think twice about it. But when she passed away a few years later, her family chose to honor her wishes. They knew Brooke would have wanted to save and aid the lives of other people. And boy, did she help people.
From Brooke Strong:
Brooke’s organs were donated to many individuals in need:
• Her heart was given to a mother of 4 and grandmother of 2 in Wisconsin
• Her pancreas and one kidney to a woman
• Her second kidney was donated, but the recipient is unknown at this time
• Her liver was received by a husband, who is a father of an 11-year-old daughter
• One of Brooke’s corneas was donated to a 75-year-old man who lives in Central Florida
• Her other cornea to a 74-year-old woman also from Central Florida who now can see the “wonders of God’s beautiful world and see more clearly the faces of my precious family.”
And almost exactly two years after the tragic incident took place, her family got to meet the woman who received Brooke’s heart. They took her into their home — Brooke’s home — and showed her the world of the young woman who gave her a new life. They listened to Brooke’s heart and bonded with Carol, a woman who felt an instant connection to them. A woman who felt like family to them.
In a video that will absolutely move you to tears, Carol Wright, a mother and grandmother, meets Brooke’s family for the first time.
Two Lives, One Heart: The Brooke Dawkins Story – #BrookeStrong
Two years ago today, Brooke Dawkins, a 19-year-old UCF student, was critically injured after being struck by a vehicle near the UCF campus. “Two Lives, One Heart: #BrookeStrong” illustrates the positive impact that organ donation can have on the lives of others. Follow Brooke's story, from the time she registered as an organ donor to the very special reunion between her family and heart transplant recipient Carol Wright.
Posted by Orlando Health on Tuesday, February 23, 2016
One of her best friends and cousins, Sarah Nemes spoke with me about the experience.
I will always miss Brooke. But it was amazing meeting the person who was saved by Brooke’s generous nature. I had an immediate connection with Carol and it was incredible to be hearing Brooke’s heart again beating inside Carol’s chest. The lost physical self is recasting, but getting to keep the connection through Carol, who exhibits similar characteristics as Brooke, is wonderful.
Brooke’s family and friends wanted to make sure her memory not only lived on, but did good. In light of the tragedy, they created Brooke Strong, an organization promoting organ donation. Thanks to one generous friend, sister, and sorority girl, multiple lives have been changed for the better. That’s what it means to be philanthropic. That’s what it means to be #BrookeStrong..
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