Xavier Catholic Preparatory fares rather well in competitions. The Gators are three-peat recipients of the national Blue Ribbon distinction for academics. They’re also three-peaters in Arizona for earning the most athletic state and runners up titles.
The National Youth Arts Awards commended four student actors in last year’s theatrical productions. So when Annaise White heard about a High School Challenge through the Donor Network of Arizona, she knew it was game on for the Gators.
The Xavier community had a clear connection to the cause. White was 8 years old when her dad died following an abrupt heart attack. She remembers Donor Network of Arizona speaking with the family. That’s when she heard her dad was a registered organ donor.
“After that, I found out my Dad saved at least five people’s lives,” White, now a senior, told The Catholic Sun Oct. 22.
It was the second day of the High School Challenge and White filled her lunch break registering future donors and thanking them. Organ donation, a Church-approved life-giving measure, can go as high as allowing up to eight others live on.
“It gives people a second chance,” White said.
Last year, 386 lives were saved statewide because 143 Arizonans gave the gift of life through organ donation. Having that extra time with family is important.
“I was blown away learning that 18 people die every day waiting for a transplant,” said Meghan Grewal, a junior.
More than 2,400 people in Arizona alone are waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. As president of Xavier’s Students for Social Action Club, Grewal not only helped promote and run the organ donor registration drive, but she became a donor herself.
“It’s amazing to see how much people care,” she said.
Xavier students also set up registration tables at the neighboring Brophy campus. The Jesuit school for boys lost a student in his senior year in a car-pedestrian accident.
His organs sustained the lives of others. The tragedy led to what was then the largest high school organ donation drive in Arizona with Brophy’s drive-thru “Donate Life” campaign in 2010. This year’s organ donation drive through Donor Network of Arizona brought 10 Arizona high schools together for the week-long registration challenge.
“It’s about reaching beyond yourself,” White said of organ donation.
She said classmates often want to make a difference in the world, but as a teenager, isn’t always sure where to start. White hoped the week-long registration drive at least exposed them to one way they or a family member could change the life of others.
Some students were ready to become donors, but hadn’t yet reached age 15 ½ or applied for a driving permit. Donors can sign up online at www.azdonorregistry.org or when they apply for or renew their driver’s license.
Xavier’s organ donation registration drive added some 100 names to the list the first day with an estimated 200 the second day. The High School Challenge ends Oct. 25.