Organization rallies around student awaiting kidney transplant

Mary Whitfill

Features Editor

When Coppell Middle School East student Taylor Storch died in a skiing accident last spring, her parents were forced to make a decision with the potential to dramatically impact the lives of many.

Finding the sliver of hope in a seemingly dark situation, parents Todd and Tara Storch choose to donate Taylor’s organs to those in need. Taylor saved five lives.

Out of the loss of the Coppell eighth grader bloomed a foundation dedicated to raising organ donation awareness in young people, Taylor’s Gift. Committed to raising the numbers of registered organ donators, Taylor’s Gift strives to help people make a decision about organ donation before the moment is crucial and the decision is rushed.

“Discussing organ donation is just as important as discussing the safety deposit box or the life insurance,” Taylor’s Gift founder Todd Storch said. “It’s death, it’s mortality.”

The Dallas Stars wrapped their warm-up sticks in blue tape to sponsor Taylor's Gift at the NHL sponsored Taylor's Gift Night. Photo courtesy of Todd Storch.

Partnering with individuals and organizations across the nation has helped Taylor’s Gift to begin to make the impact they intended, reaching over 127 countries. In a recent partnering with the National Hockey League and as a gift to the foundation, the Dallas Stars chose to make their game with the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 20 an official NHL sponsored event: Taylor’s Gift Night.

Stars players showed their support by using sticks wrapped in blue tape, while coaches and broadcasters wore blue Taylor’s Gift ties.

Even the Avalanche players were sympathetic to the cause as they wrapped

their warm-up sticks in the blue tape. The Storch family dropped the first puck on the ice.

“This was the first time the NHL had ever done something like this,” Todd said. “It was completely ground breaking.”

After the game, Stars players auctioned off their playing sticks and an opportunity for the winning bidder to meet the player and have their hockey stick signed. Fans were also given the opportunity to register to be an organ donor or make a contribution to Taylor’s Gift.

“It was amazing to get that kind of contribution, that kind of recognition,” Todd said.

Despite the recognition and popularity the organization is gaining across the globe, they remain dedicated to local causes. The most recent partnership acquired by the organization is the help they have provided to Coppell Middle School West student Jun Choi.

“This is a really nice family who had something horrible happen to them,” Todd said. “It was a boy the same age as my daughter with a life threatening condition. I had to see how I could help.”

Choi is a 13-year-old Coppell resident who was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome, a disease causing kidney failure. Choi had both kidneys removed and is on a dialysis machine almost 10 hours everyday.

“Basically, my kidneys can’t maintain the nutrients that my body needs,” Choi said. “My body doesn’t hold protein or calcium very well.”

Through awareness and mass media attention, Taylor’s Gift is bringing attention to Choi’s cause with the ‘Be a hero 4 Jun’ campaign. The organization’s efforts have lead to over 800 Coppell students wearing bright green campaign bracelets and many people attempting to be a donor for Choi.

“We have had a lot of people interested, but its not that easy,” Todd said. “You don’t just get to raise your hand and say ‘I want to be a organ donor.’ There are a lot of criteria that must be met.”

In addition to the help provided by Taylor’s Gift, Youth Sports Today owner Tresha Glowacki is taking an interest in Choi’s story.

“Jun has been an inspiration,” Glowacki said. “I had no idea someone could do what he’s doing, but he is. He can’t wait to get his new kidney and become [Taylor’s Gift’s] spokesperson.”

In their most recent contribution to Choi’s cause, Youth Sports Today organizedTaylor’s Gift Night with the Texas Legends. The foundation was given 250 free tickets to the Dallas minor league basketball team’s game, helping to raise awareness about not only Taylor’s Gift, but Choi specifically.

“This is a problem that can easily be solved, that’s what is so great,” Glowacki said. “It’s not like we’re raising cancer awareness. We know what is wrong and we can fix it right now.”

Taylor’s Gift and Youth Sports Today plan on continuing to raise awareness for both organ donation and Choi through speaking events and coppelltoday.com.

“[Todd] talking to young people has opened so many doors for communication,” Glowacki said.  “It isn’t just about organ donation; it’s about discussion and being able to talk about it.”