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California Peace Officer Heroes to be Honored on the Donate Life Float in the 2016 Rose Parade

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 9, 2015 – Families of fallen California law enforcement officers were honored today during a special Donate Life Rose Dedication Ceremony at the California Highway Patrol Academy in West Sacramento, hosted by Donate Life California, the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation and the California Highway Patrol. The families were presented with certificates and roses in honor of their loved ones’ service and sacrifice, and were invited to write dedications that will be placed with roses on the Donate Life Float in the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade® held in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

“This ceremony recognizes the tremendous role law enforcement officers have in our communities – not just in their protection of our lives and property, but through organ, eye and tissue donation as well,” said Charlene Zettel, Donate Life California CEO. “All officers who have dedicated their lives to ensure our safety are heroes for their service and sacrifice. Many also become donor heroes when they become organ, eye and tissue donors.”

CHP Officer Kenyon Youngstrom was killed in the line of duty in September 2012. He saved four lives as an organ donor and healed dozens more through his gifts of tissue.

“Kenyon believed in helping people, it’s why he wanted to work in law enforcement,” said Karen Youngstrom Simmons, Officer Youngstrom’s widow. “When he died, I knew he wanted to be an organ and tissue donor. He was a servant and felt that if his body could be of use to others when it was no longer useful to him, then he would be happy to serve. While the pain of losing him is still very real, knowing he is still helping other people is healing.”

“Every day, our officers deal with life and death matters,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said.  “It is so heartwarming to participate in this ceremony that recognizes how an officer’s ultimate sacrifice can continue to give life.”

Organ donation saved the youngest son of former Antioch police sergeant, Kelly Ouimet. Battling for his life, Matthew received a liver and a kidney transplant at just two years of age and is now an active four-year-old.

“Our lives have been greatly impacted by law enforcement and organ donation – both have defined us as individuals and as a family,” said Kristi Ouimet, Matthew’s mother. “Law enforcement officers are dedicated and compassionate people who serve their communities with integrity and sacrifice. Organ, eye and tissue donors are generous and selfless people who give others a second chance at life. I can’t think of more honorable ways to serve others.”

“Losing an officer in the line of duty is a tragedy and one that isn’t forgotten,” said Wayne Quint, Executive Director of the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation. “Organ, eye and tissue donations by peace officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice are a final act of selflessness and heroism, ensuring their legacy lives on.”

The families of the following fallen officers, in order of End-of-Watch (EOW) date, were in attendance at today’s ceremony:

Officer Stephan Gray, Merced Police Department, EOW 4/15/04
Officer John P. Miller, CHP – Dublin, EOW 11/16/07
Officer Kenyon Youngstrom, CHP – Contra Costa, EOW 9/5/12
Officer Kevin A. Tonn, Galt Police Department, EOW 1/15/13
Detective Sergeant Thomas A. Smith, Jr. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police Department, EOW 1/21/14
Officer Juan Gonzalez, CHP – Fresno, EOW 2/17/14
Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, EOW 3/19/14
Officer Jordan J. Corder, Covina Police Department, EOW 9/30/14

The names and biographies of all California peace officers who have died in the line of duty can be found at www.camemorial.org under the “Honor Roll” tab.

About the Donate Life Float in the 2016 Rose Parade®:

The 2016 Donate Life Rose Parade Float, “Treasure Life’s Journey,” represents the journey of new life, health and adventure that begins with every donation of organs, eyes and tissue. In their passing, deceased donors open up a world of health to grateful recipients and empower them to contribute to their families, communities and future generations. Donor families find comfort by helping life go on in a remarkable act of love and caring for people they never knew. And Living Donors heroically give of themselves to help friends, family and even strangers. Through its endless power to save, heal and enhance lives, donation is truly the journey of a lifetime. Now in its 13th year, the Donate Life Float is the world’s most visible campaign to inspire organ, eye and tissue donation.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • 22 people across the country die each day awaiting life-saving organ transplants.
  • One in five on the U.S. organ transplant waiting list lives in California.
  • All major religions support or permit organ, eye and tissue donation.
  • You’re never too old or sick to be a registered organ, eye and tissue donor.

About Donate Life California

Donate Life California is the nonprofit, state-authorized organ, eye and tissue donor registry. Individuals can add their name to the registry by checking “YES!” every time they renew/apply for their driver license or ID card at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This ensures their desire to donate life will be carried out. A pink “DONOR” dot is added to their driver license or ID as a symbol of their decision. Individuals can also sign up online at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org. As a public service, the registry ensures all personal information is kept confidential and stored in a secure database, accessible only to authorized organ and tissue recovery personnel at the time of an actual donation opportunity. The registry is administered by Donate Life California and California’s four nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs): Donor Network West, Lifesharing, OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services.

About the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation

The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation is a nonprofit charitable foundation whose mission is to recognize and honor California’s peace officers who gave their lives ‘In the Line of Duty’ serving the citizens of this great state, and provides support to the family members left behind. For more information, go to www.camemorial.org.

About the California Highway Patrol

The mission of the California Highway Patrol is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security to the people of California.

Media contact: Brianne Mundy Page, 858-220-8351, brianne@donateLIFEcalifornia.org

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