Intermountain Donor Services honors five ‘heroes’ as part of Donate Life Month

SALT LAKE CITY -- April is 'National Donate Life Month,' and to celebrate, Intermountain Donor Services honored five Utahns for raising awareness about the need for organ, eye and tissue donations.

"We honored a funeral service, a rodeo queen, a custom motorcycle shop owner, a legislator," Alex McDonald said. "It takes a lot of people to really get the message out and we wanted to thank them because they're helping save lives everyday."

Shaun Coon suffered from congestive heart failure for three months before getting a heart transplant. His donor was from Las Vegas and died of a brain aneurysm. Getting his heart changed Coon's life.

"It's amazing, you learn to take things a lot slower, you don't get very ornery, and you don't take conversations for granted," Coon said.

He had no insurance when he had his transplant, so friends organized a motorcycle ride. 600 riders took part and helped pay for some of Coon's bills.

Now the owner of 'Coonyz Customz,' Coon organizes a yearly ride to raise money and awareness about organ donation.

'Wiseguy' owner Keith Stubbs was honored for holding fundraising events at his comedy clubs in Salt Lake City and Ogden.

The operators of Premiere Funeral Services got their award for working with families and educating them about organ donation, and letting them know that someone who donates organs, eyes and tissue can still have a regular funeral with a viewing if wanted.

Utah Representative Mark Wheatley was honored for sponsoring legislation that brought attention to the living kidney donor program.

Wheatley reintroduced a program that gives state employees ninety days of leave if they donate a kidney.

Morgan Hansen of Logan is a Junior Rodeo Queen. Her association with organ donation began at an out-of-state rodeo queen competition.

"I was actually up in Idaho trying out for a queen competition up there, and I didn't end up getting that title," Hansen said. "And then I had a lady text me the next day and she asked me if I wanted to be ambassador and I was like 'what?'"

She accepted the role of Intermountain Donor Services Ambassador, and last summer, she attended 47 rodeos and spread the word about the importance of organ donation.

Right now, 800 people living in Utah are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

80 percent of Utah's population age sixteen and older are registered as organ, eye and tissue donors, making the state a leader in donating life.