Organ Donor: A celebration of a gift of life

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – A memorial race was held to remember and honor the life of a 12-year old boy who died in a motocross accident. The Luke Gibson Memorial Race was held Sunday morning at Burnthill Motocross a few miles north of Jonesboro. According to Luke's father, Dave Gibson, the event was aimed at remembering his son and raising awareness of the importance of organ donations.

Luke, born in Ohio and moved to Jackson, Tennessee, was a fan of skate boarding, BMX and loved to draw and collect. He was also a member of the King of the Hill Motocross Series.

"It's great to meet all the people involved, and learn more about Luke, and have that connection that Anna will have the rest of her life," said Brian Schmidt. "Luke was a very likable young man, loved life, loved to race and was very good at racing from what we understand."

Brian had a special relationship with Luke. After Luke's death, his organs and tissue was donated to save lives. Brian's daughter, Anna, had suffered from a serious heart condition. She was suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy.

"We came down to visit the Gibsons, they had contacted us to let us know that Luke was the donor, said Brian. "To me it seems like everybody in the world was praying for her and was there to help us and hold us up, and keep us moving forward and Anna knows that and acknowledges that and can't wait to help others."

Anna's story was featured on ESPN last year, when she met all the members of the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. Click here to watch the story. Anna's wish was to meet Aaron Rodgers, Pro-Bowl Quarterback for the Packers. Her wish was granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"I have a belief in God and I thought, why are you allowing this to happen? And I remember one time, I was crying and my sister came in and she shook me and she said, jean, you have to be strong for Anna. And I think after that day, I wasn't always strong, but I knew that it was my job to be an adult," said Jean Schmidt. "Not many people get to meet the green bay packers on a basic level and we got to eat lunch with them and we talked to them and all of the packers came up and met Anna and signed a football for her."

Anna and her family made the long trip from Horicon, Wisconsin to Jonesboro Saturday. Anna said she was happy to see Luke's father once again.

"It means so much to me because Dave Gibson invited me here and I'm proud to be here to represent Luke and everything," said Anna. "It was a sense of happiness, especially when he talked about me, because I know that somehow he feels a relationship through me."

Anna said she's thankful to have Luke as part of her life, and now she has two families.

"I have two dads now and two moms," said Anna.

According to a news release, there are more than 112,000 people nationally awaiting an organ transplant. An estimated 18 people each day die due to the lack of organs. To find out more about becoming an organ donor, click here.

"For Anna, the odds were very much stacked against her because not only did she have a heart that was failing, but it had actually failed to it's entirety, where they needed to put a heart support system on her, and the support system is one that's not even approved in our country," said Brian. "She had to have brain surgery and stuff before we could even get to the transplant and then of course, to be lucky enough to receive a heart, and then have it actually bring her back, and give her a full life and give her a future."

At Sunday's motocross event, the Mid-South Transplant Organization, Mid-American Transplant Foundation and various organ recovery agencies were in attendance.

The Schmidt's said they were there for Luke and his family.

"I think we're both mutually grateful to each other for what each family has done. We are more than grateful for their family for what they gave to us," said Jean. "She doesn't want to miss too much about life and that's what Luke seemed like he was too, active in many things and Anna is too."

"We can understand more about Luke and what he did and how much it meant to him and just knowing that Luke was a part of it and Anna now has Luke," said Jean.

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