Catcher McCardell, a 14-year-old Eagle Scout candidate, was on a family vacation last year observing a variety of license plates on the vehicles of other “road trippers.” One plate in particular, a DONATE LIFE specialty plate, caught his eye. “Why doesn’t Utah have a DONATE LIFE license plate?” he asked his mother, Michelle, who is employed at University of Utah Hospital.
In that moment, McCardell’s Eagle Scout project was born.
While many would be intimidated by the process of creating legislation for a new state-recognized license plate, McCardell has been working tirelessly to navigate the system, and engage advocates in his effort, including Paul Ray, state legislator, District 13.
“When I pitched the idea to Representative Ray, he was really impressed by this idea, and agreed to sponsor the bill,” said McCardell.
The bill, HB272, was passed by lawmakers during the recent legislative session, and paves the way for Utah to have its own DONATE LIFE license plate to promote organ, eye, and tissue donation.
While McCardell is excited that he will be on a very short list of individuals responsible for the creation of a state license plate, what really drives him is the knowledge that he is helping to generate funds and awareness for such an important cause as organ donation and the YesUtah donation registry.
“It’s really important to me. My parents highly encourage it. It can save people’s lives. If you are able to donate an organ to somebody who needs one, then it could definitely mean a lot to someone,” said McCardell.
The Hale family wrote a letter to Tayzli’s heart recipient and soon received a response. Both families have now become close friends. Tayzli’s heart was transplanted into a little boy from Utah. He calls Whitney and AJ his “heart mom and dad.” His family is so grateful to the Hale’s for giving their little boy a chance to live.
“They’re the sweetest family…we celebrate birthdays and holidays together. The first time we met them they brought a stethoscope, and we were able to listen to her heart. They gave us a Build a Bear and they got her heartbeat from the hospital and put it inside so that was really special,” said Whitney.
From the moment they decided to donate Tayzli’s organs, the Hales made the decision to reach out to all the families that received her organs because they wanted to stay connected to her. They are so grateful that they got to be parents to Tayzli. And the impact she’s made on other lives through organ donation has been incredible to them.