By Michael Balderston
In 2009, Hilary Crawford Bradford, a mother of two and registered nurse, passed away at the age of 36. Her death was a tragedy that rocked her family and community. However, that was not the end of Hilary’s story.
As a registered donor, Hilary was able to donate her heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas, and helped save five lives. It is this unselfish act that Hilary’s mother, Bettsy Crawford, and family will be honoring when they head to Pasadena for the annual Rose Bowl Parade.
Donate Life, a nationwide organization that promotes the importance of being an organ donor, sponsors a float every year as part of the Rose Bowl Parade. This year the theme of their float is “The Never Ending Story” and features floragraph’s of previous donors. Among them will be one of Hilary. For Bettsy Crawford, it’s an appropriate theme to honor her daughter.
“Not only is it perfect for the fact you can keep passing on something to help someone else so the story of life continues,” says Crawford, “but for the Crawford family, that title was perfect because it was one of [the kids’] favorite movies.”
Becoming a donor was a no brainer for Hilary.
“That was a slam dunk, easy decision,” says Crawford. “I don’t know if it was a big deal, it was just like ‘of course I’ll do that, why wouldn’t I do that.’”
Crawford has her own history as a donor. In 2001 she became a living donor when she donated one of her kidneys. She continues to provide her support by serving on the Washington Regional Transplant Community’s advisory council as a volunteer with her husband, Ray.
“Just trying to do what I can to kind of pay it forward, pay it back,” says Crawford on why she volunteers. “It’s a great cause. There are still too many people that still are not registered organ donors and if I can do anything to help facilitate changing that I feel like that’s a valuable thing I can do.”
There is still a great need for people to register as organ donors. Over 2,000 people in the D.C. area are on the waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant and over 123,000 people all across the U.S.
The Crawford family is excited to head to the Rose Bowl, not only to help spread awareness on the importance of being an organ donor, but to remember Hilary’s spirit.
“She loved life, absolutely loved life,” says Crawford. “Loved being the oldest sibling and kind of acting like a second mom to them. She loved her friends, loved her family, loved nursing … she just enjoyed life.”
The 126th Rose Parade will take place on New Years Day.