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Hundreds of organ donor families to be recognized at 'Celebration of Heroes' event

Posted at 3:58 PM, Nov 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-03 18:33:26-04

WESTWOOD, Kan. -- They come from different walks of life. They’re black, white, young, old, mothers, fathers, and daughters. 

For Fred and Sandy Franzwa, it was their son. Sterling Franzwa was 17.  

“It’s a club you never want to be in when you have a loss,” Sandy Franzwa told 41 Action News.  

On December 16, 2016, Sterling lost control of his truck. 

“Every milestone is gonna be hard for us because we don’t have him here to celebrate that,” Franzwa said.

But Sterling’s life lives on, as does Matt Gonzales.  

His picture is woven on a quilt behind his wife Elizabeth. She beams with pride while talking about him.  

“People would always talk about his smile and his green eyes. He would tell you, they’re really pretty,” she said.  

With those pretty green eyes, he had the foresight to become an organ donor. The Army Sergeant has become a lifesaver in more ways than one.  

“How many people can say they save someone’s life,” Gonzales asked.  

These are two of the hundreds of families that’ll be recognized Saturday at Midwest Transplant Center’s “Celebration of Heroes.” These “heroes” have donated organs, eyes, and tissue.  

The families invited will pin a square on the Donor Memorial Quilt. 

There will also be a balloon release, and family members will pour purple sand into a vase; each grain representing someone impacted by these heroes.  

Sandy Franzwa called that impact profound.  

“We know he’s living through other people and in our hearts,” she said. 

Gonzales echoed those thoughts.  

“We celebrate our military, we celebrate first responders, we should celebrate these heroes as well,” she said.