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Here’s to Passing the Spirit

Richie’s Spirit Foundation (RSF) is a New York City-based nonprofit that promotes organ donation to people of all ages through education awareness programs, grants to honor organ donor Richie Herskowitz’s memory, and by inspiring others to live with a positive spirit.

Richie was born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a genetic respiratory and digestive disease. At age 6, Richie received a double-lung transplant, but at 14 his body began to reject his lungs. In October 2007, the 17-year-old high school senior passed away.

Following Richie’s death, the Herskowitz family decided to find a way to honor the donor family’s gift and keep Richie’s memory alive by starting RSF. Like Chris Klug Foundation, RSF demonstrates a commitment to advocacy, awareness, and education. Each foundation’s staff members and volunteers educate other about the importance of registering to be an organ donor. Chris and Richie were very fortunate to receive transplants and it is imperative to make communities aware of organ donation and its everlasting effects.

Chris shares and lives his message every day while the spirit of Richie lives on among the RSF community and those supported by the organization. From coast to coast, RSF and Chris Klug Foundation are working to educate and inspire. Transplants give recipients a second chance—they get more time with family and friends, opportunities to go to school, to travel, find adventures, develop friendships, and continue to make memories that are deeply cherished.

Both organizations are knowledgeable of the needs of transplant recipients and their families and work to improve the quality of life for these individuals. RSF recognizes the financial burden an organ transplant has on a family. To help alleviate some of these pressures, RSF provides non-medical financial support through its Transplant Assistance Grant Program.

In its first year, the now nationwide Transplant Assistance Grant Program awarded $500 in grants to families at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri where Richie received his double-lung transplant. As of this year, the program has provided more than $10,000 in financial assistance to families with children undergoing organ transplants. Grants are awarded in the form of gift cards for gas, airlines or groceries.

As RSF continues to flourish, it is inspired by the expanding and amazing work of Chris Klug. By growing networks of donors, volunteers, and resources, the foundations complement each other and serve as wonderful examples and sources of inspiration, ideas, and wisdom. Each organization’s namesake also represents the power of one—how an individual’s life can help and inspire others even when they may no longer be with us.

Richie’s life and spirit continue to be celebrated more than ten years after his death. RSF is inspired by the work the Chris Klug Foundation is doing to promote organ donation.

Here’s to passing the spirit!

To learn more about RSF and Richie’s amazing story, please visit the RSF website.

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