(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Winners of the fourth annual Donate Life Visual Arts Contest were recognized and received prize money at a special event held in their honor April 11 on the Sacramento campus of UC Davis.
Gavin Bomhoff of Del Oro High School won top honors for his video entry, with Mallory Snarr of River City High School and Julia Baptista Weckerle of Granite Bay High School winning first place in the English and non-English poster categories.
A total of $4,100 was awarded to 11 entries, which can all be viewed online here.
“It is so important to share the donate life message with younger audiences,” said Deanna Santana, public education manager for Sierra Donor Services. “We want to make sure they know the opportunities they have to save lives.”
The contest is one of the ways UC Davis Transplant Center and Sierra Donor Services involve the community in Donate Life Month, a national campaign held each April to raise awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation. This year’s contest had the highest participation ever, with 85 entries from 14 high schools.
Teens are asked when they first apply for California driver’s licenses or identification cards if they want to register as organ or tissue donors. The contest gives them a creative way to learn more about what their registration means and then engage their peers and family members in what they learn.
“There are 11 winners, however the contest likely sparked hundreds of conversations about organ donation and transplant,” said Richard Perez, chief of transplant surgery at UC Davis. “That is its greatest value.”
Encouraging those conversations was a key reason why Cinthya Cisneros, a science teacher at River City High School, got involved with the contest for the first time this year. Four of this year’s winners are students at her school.
“I want my students to understand tough topics and know how to be advocates for themselves, their family members or even complete strangers,” Cisneros said. “Transplant is a topic that many don't like to engage in due to myths in our society, but they will hopefully be able to change that by creating a sense of awareness with those who interact with them.”
Sierra Donor Services, the organ and tissue recovery agency for the greater Sacramento area, reports there is a critical shortage of donors for the more than 21,000 Californians (about 1,900 in the Sacramento region) who are waiting for lifesaving organs or tissue. One person can save up to eight lives with organ donation and improve countless others with tissue donation. Living kidney donation is also possible.