Local group works toward Gift of Life Legacy Garden
By City Times staff
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – A Wisconsin Rapids area group is working to develop a legacy garden that will honor and memorialize local organ donors and recipients.
Central Wisconsin Gift of Life (CWGoL) is a group of organ and tissue recipients, living organ donors, organ and tissue donor families, and others who are passionate about the lifesaving gift of organ and tissue donation. The group works to promote organ and tissue awareness in central Wisconsin.
“In August of 2018 one of the original members of our group, Chris Stensberg, passed away,” said co-founder, Jill Dillon. “Chris was the recipient of a double lung transplant. This gave him 12 more years of life, enough time to see his daughter get married and his grandchildren born. One of Chris’ greatest accomplishments was being an assistant coach of the Nekoosa Girls Basketball team. After his death, his players and fellow coaches wanted to honor him and celebrate his life through his favorite sport, basketball.
“On Nov. 15, 2018, which would have been Chris’ birthday, his team held a ‘Gift of Life Basketball’ game versus Port Edwards High School. Fundraisers and proceeds from that game were donated to our group. Memorials at Chris’ funeral also were designated for our group. Wanting to find a way to use these funds to create a lasting memory of Chris and an area for all to celebrate their own stories, the Gift of Life Legacy Garden was born.”
Dillon said the purpose of the garden is to “bring awareness to organ and tissue donation through the memories and honoring of organ recipients, deceased donors and their families, living donors, and all others involved in the world of transplant.”
The garden is planned for the Wisconsin Rapids Legion Park on First Street North.
The garden will include a reflection bench, plants, arbor, and engraved paving stones that will fill a walkway with names of those honored with their “Gifts of Life.”
The group is partnering with Alex Boyd, a local Boy Scout working on his Eagle Scout project.
The engraved paving stones are currently being sold by the group.
Organizers plan to host a groundbreaking in the spring of 2020, with project completion scheduled for later that summer.