The Sharing Network Foundation’s Hearts for Emma Partner Fund awarded a scholarship to Mia Kolb of Warren for her passion and dedication to raising awareness for organ and tissue donation.
Kolb received his scholarship at the NJ Sharing Network headquarters in New Providence during a ceremony with his family members at the Landscape of Life meditation garden.
Kolb, a 2022 graduate of Gill St. Bernard’s School, plans to attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall.
His powerful connection to organ and tissue donation and transplantation began almost 14 years ago when his younger brother, Christopher, was born with a tumor that required him to be placed on critical life support in the urgent need of a heart transplant.
“We were helpless to do anything but hope and pray that a donor would be found in time,” Kolb said. “Fortunately, he was given the gift of life and is now a successful teenager.”
Shortly after turning 12, Kolb began volunteering with the NJ Sharing Network to educate others about the importance of organ and tissue donation.
As president of Gill St. Bernard’s Donate Life Club, Kolb coordinated guest speaker presentations to encourage her classmates to register as organ and tissue donors.
She has also organized several donor registration drives and fundraisers to support the Sharing Network Foundation.
Kolb is currently focused on earning the Girl Scout Gold Award for her outreach efforts in support of NJ Sharing Network’s rescue mission.
“I strive to educate members of my community about the importance of organ and tissue donation so that our family’s miracle can become a reality for other families,” Kolb said.
“Registering as an organ and tissue donor should be an easy choice, but there is an abundance of misinformation that prevents many from making this decision. Some people worry that doctors won’t try to save their lives if they are registered donors. I work to help dispel these myths. By sharing my family’s experience, I have been able to influence others to make the right choice to register as a donor.
The Sharing Network Foundation Scholarship Program provides an opportunity to recognize and reward high school seniors who are advocating for and/or whose lives have been touched by organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
The Hearts for Emma Partner Fund, a program of the Sharing Network Foundation, was established in recognition of the heart transplant success of Emma Rothman of Cranford.
It supports the production and distribution of educational materials and programs to help promote the importance of organ and tissue donation.
The Fund has raised nearly $80,000 since its inception and has helped educate more than 100,000 students about donation and transplantation through the NJ Sharing Network’s high school outreach program.
Last year, Rothman celebrated the 10th anniversary of his lifesaving heart transplant and earned a degree in food studies from Syracuse University.
Rothman remains humbled and forever grateful to her donor, who gave her the gift of life and made her accomplishments possible.
“Hearts for Emma is focused on educating present and future generations to ensure everyone understands the importance of organ and tissue donation and transplantation,” said Nancie Rothman, mother of Emma and Founder and President of Hearts for Emma.
“Mia is a perfect example of what it means to take an active role in supporting these important outreach efforts.”
Scholarship applicants were evaluated on their academic achievement, community and volunteer efforts, extracurricular activities, and advocacy for organ and tissue donation.
The application process included extensive review by Nancie Rothman and JoAnne McGovern, Hearts for Emma Registration Secretary, as well as members of the Hearts for Emma Scholarship Committee and the Sharing Network Foundation Board of Trustees.
“We are grateful for the generous support of the Hearts for Emma Partner Fund and their continued commitment to rewarding students who share a commitment to our mission to save lives,” said Amanda Tibok, Acting Executive Director of the Sharing Network Foundation.
“We know that Mia and all of our fellows will continue to be strong leaders in educating others about donation and transplantation throughout their college years and beyond.”
According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 100,000 Americans — nearly 4,000 of whom live in New Jersey — are waiting for lifesaving transplants.
A single organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and improve the lives of more than 75 people.
To learn more, get involved, and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.
Photo courtesy of NJ Sharing Network