On September 22, 2007 at 3:38 am, I was awakened by the ringing of my phone. I answered to hear the shaky voice of my oldest son Robert. He said, “Mom, Mom. I Love you so much, I love you, Mom.” I asked, “What’s wrong, son? What’s wrong?” He said to me, “My baby brother has been shot. Steven has been shot and it doesn’t look good, I need you Mom - I need you.” The rest of the morning was a blur of rushing around trying to get a flight to Reno, Nevada to be with my sons.
That call was the beginning of a nightmare I would never wake up from.
My sons had gone to Reno to attend an annual motorcycle show called Street Vibrations. Their first night in Reno, the group walked to a restaurant to get something to eat. A few minutes later, two intoxicated men walked in and sat near the table of my sons and their friends. These two men used many obscenities and were loud and obnoxious. This went on for a few minutes. My son’s group asked the waitress to have the men removed, but she didn’t. Soon after, they got fed up with the nonsense and asked the waitress to box up their food so they could leave. As they walked out of the restaurant, the two men followed them, and a confrontation occurred. One of the two men had a gun and shots rang out. My youngest son, Steven, along with two others in the group, were shot.
Steven was shot twice and did not survive his injuries.
Four years ago, I assisted my brother in writing a story about his 18 year old daughter, Valerie, who was killed in a motorcycle vehicle accident. Valerie was a tissue donor. Her father wrote her story as a donor father; Valerie’s story was printed in the 2003 CBC/CTS Annual Report.
Never, ever in my craziest imagination did I think I would be writing a story as a donor mother.
I have worked in the field of tissue donation for 20 years; both my sons have lived in the world of tissue and organ donation most of their lives.
We, like many other people, had shared, as my boys called it, “the donation talk,” many years ago. As soon as the State of California implemented its donor registry, Steven registered, and so the decision was made.
Steven was a tissue donor; he donated bone, skin and both femoral and saphenous veins.
Over 1,200 people attended Steven’s funeral service. I was amazed at how someone so young had actually touched people’s lives. He was only 26 years old, but Steven was always bigger than life; he was a great big teddy bear who loved everyone and was looked up to by many people for his kind and unselfish nature.
That day as we were leaving the church, a staff member of the church asked my son Robert if Steven was a celebrity or a star. She said she had never seen so many people attend a funeral service. My son Robert said to her, “Yes, you could say he was a star.”
Steven left behind not only a 21 month-old daughter, Alixea Rea, and a one month old baby girl, Stevie Drew, he also left behind a long legacy of wonderful memories for his family and friends.
Steven didn’t only touch the lives of everyone he met; he continues to touch the lives of all the strangers who received his donated tissue through transplantation.
Steven is not only a star but also a hero; many of his friends were in awe that Steven was a tissue donor, but none were surprised. I believe Steven helped many of his friends make a decision they otherwise would have never considered and through his story many others are aware of what we all have the power to do, make a difference in someone else’s life.
by Frances - Steven's Mother