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White applauds students' organ donor efforts

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Secretary of State Jesse White speaks about organ donation on Thursday while Illinois State University President Larry Dietz and Deb Lesser, adviser to student radio station WZND, listen.

NORMAL — Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White on Thursday thanked the family and friends of two Illinois State University students who died in accidents for keeping their legacy alive by encouraging others to join them in becoming organ donors.

The organs and tissues of Michael Collins, who died a year ago, and Benjamin Allison, who died earlier this year, were donated after their deaths from injuries suffered in traffic accidents.

“We talk about heroes,” White said. “These two young men fall into the category of heroes.”

Speaking at ISU's Bone Student Center, ISU President Larry Dietz said Collins and Allison have served as inspirations to others.

"This is a day of thankfulness and testimony to good always coming out of bad," he said.

This month, ISU student radio station WZND, where Allison had worked, and the ISU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, one of whose members was injured in the crash that killed Collins, were involved in several events as part of Organ Donor Awareness Month.

Among them was a daylong promotional effort that resulted in more than 150 signing up as organ donors.

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Dietz told the students, “The work you've done will have far-reaching effects” as he commended them for showing good can come out of bad.

Emphasizing the impact of that effort, White said, “One person (who becomes a donor) can provide life or improve the quality of life for 25 people.”

Students at WZND also created and broadcast public service announcements and did interviews related to organ donation.

White has made promotion of organ donation a priority since his election in 1998.

There are 5.7 million people signed up as donors in Illinois, according to White.

“I want to applaud the extra effort on the part of the students,” White said. “Thank you for caring. Thank you for making a difference.”

White encouraged those present to contact 10 people and ask them to become organ and tissue donors.

People can register as donors in person at a secretary of state's facility, online at or by calling 800-210-2106.

Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter: @pg_sobota


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