DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Just more than 20 years ago, on April 20, 1999, the Columbine High School massacre changed the way some students attended school forever.
Fifteen lives were lost, including those two teens who went on a shooting spree at Columbine High. But today, a new story is being told.
Most of America, including Cleveland, watched in horror that April day in 1999. Students and teachers died, but some survived, including, a then 17-year-old student. Cleveland 19 News talked with her Thursday about that ordeal and about being an organ recipient after she was shot.
"He was going for a head shot and my shoulder got in the way. The bullet hit, completely shattering my shoulder. It came out through the front and burned a path straight across my neck," said Kacey Johnson.
Johnson was one of the students severely wounded at the Columbine shooting. She survived that ordeal only to face two weeks in the hospital and 13 surgeries to repair her shoulder.
"So, I have a donor's bone in my arm and it has given me a second chance at living a whole life. Life as an amputee looks very different at 17 than it did with two arms, and I have four kids now. As a parent I look back and realize the gift that her family gave to me," she said.
Johnson travels the country spreading the word of the miracles that Lifebanc helps to happen when donors give.
"It's life changing and it's life saving," she said. "Like I said, a bone didn't necessarily save my life medically, but it really saved my life. It made me whole again. It put the pieces of my body back together which helped to put the pieces of my heart and my mind back together, which is allowing me to live fully."
One day I walked into the newsroom and they said, "Hey Harry, here is your story for the day." It was a story about Lifebanc.
That story started a six year journey for which Cleveland 19 News is being honored. Because the station cared enough to continue telling the stories of donors and donor families Lifebanc gave us the Community Champion For Life Award at its Legacy of Life Luncheon. We thank those who have given and who have registered to be donors and encourage others to do the same and we thank Lifebanc for the award.
Did you know that one donor can help up to 50 people? Right now, there are 1,900 people in northeast Ohio waiting for a life changing organ donation. You can register to be a donor when you renew your driver's license.