KayLynn was a high school cheerleader. She played softball. She lit up the room with her smile and loved her family and friends. She was always willing to do anything for anybody, and couldn’t wait to pursue her goal of becoming a nurse after graduating. But KayLynn’s future came to an abrupt end the day she was killed in a horrific auto accident. Her parents were determined to make sure that wasn’t the end of KayLynn’s beautiful impact on the world, so they made the decision to go ahead with organ donation.
Over 115 people’s lives were changed forever with KayLynn’s donation. “She was that type of person to help people and she wanted to be a nurse, so we knew the best way to honor KayLynn’s memory was to choose organ donation,” said her mother, Gloria Oliver.
The Olivers have heard from some of the organ recipients, which has helped them cope with their grief. “It’s good to hear their stories. There was a 14-year-old girl who tore her ACL, and she wasn’t able to play sports anymore. She received KayLynn’s ACL and is able to play again. That brings us joy knowing another child can do something that KayLynn loved to do.”
It’s also brought joy to Gloria to become an advocate for organ donation in her community. She volunteers with the Alabama Organ Center, sharing KayLynn’s story at events, meeting with donors and recipients, and encouraging donation.
The effort helps keep KayLynn’s memory alive, as has Origami Owl®. Just after KayLynn passed away, Gloria was online looking for something special to memorialize KayLynn by. She said, “I wanted to put something together to give all her girlfriends. I ran across Origami Owl and saw it had everything I wanted – everything KayLynn liked.”
Gloria ordered Living Lockets with charms that captured KayLynn’s “live sparkly” favorites in life, including the Cheerleader Charm, the Peace Sign Hand Charm and the green ribbon. Originally Gloria chose the green ribbon because green was KayLynn’s favorite color, but then she was excited to learn that it also stands for organ donation.
A CHARMING NEW DIRECTION
Gloria couldn’t help but fall in love with Origami Owl, and about six months after KayLynn passed, she joined Origami Owl as a Designer. She said, “I wanted to help other people tell their stories like I did.” She’s loved doing that ever since, connecting with people and their experiences on a deep level. “I met a young mother through the organ center who had lost her only son when he was just six months old. He had a kidney disorder. She made a Living Locket in memory of him, and we became friends. Now she’s having another baby – we’ve already spoken and talked about making another locket for the new baby.”
Gloria also uses her Origami Owl business to help with fundraisers for several nonprofit organizations, including those dedicated to cystic fibrosis, kidney disorders, lung disease and more. Not surprisingly, Gloria said her “live sparkly” joy comes from “helping others and seeing them light up when they find something that makes them happy and brings them joy in their lives.” As someone who is a Force For Good in her community despite such a tragic loss, all of us at Origami Owl want to extend our gratitude to Gloria for her inspiration and bravery.
To find out more about organ donation, visit www.organdonor.gov.