(Raleigh, N.C.) — State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, has long been a champion for the cause of organ donation, and the state’s pre-eminent organ donor advocacy group has rewarded his steadfast quest to help save lives with its highest honor.
Donate Life NC presented Treasurer Folwell with the James E. Holshouser Award recognizing North Carolinians who have made exceptional advances in organ, eye and tissue donation awareness during the organization’s Gift of Life Gala in Cary on April 21. It was the inaugural award, named after the late Gov. James E. Holshouser, a kidney transplant recipient and prime supporter of transplant and donation awareness.
April is National Donate Life Month. It is observed to honor those who have received transplants, recognize those who continue to wait, applaud donors and donor families, and express appreciation to registered donors for offering hope.
“We are grateful to Treasurer Folwell for his decades of work to make organ, eye and tissue donation easier for all North Carolinians. He is an outstanding example of community service in action,” said Deanna Kerrigan, executive director of Donate Life NC. “His tireless efforts have resulted in an increase in registered donors in North Carolina, which means more lives saved right here in our state.”
“I am humbled to be named the first recipient of this prestigious award, named in honor of the distinguished Gov. Houlshouser,” Treasurer Folwell said. “I would be remiss in accepting this award if I did not do so in recognition of the hard and inexhaustible work done by Donate Life NC, the volunteers across the state who work for this most worthy cause and the donors and donor families. They are the real front-line heroes to recipients and recipient families whose lives are filled with stress as they await the gift of life.”
Treasurer Folwell’s awareness of organ donation heightened profoundly with the tragic loss of his young son, Dalton, who was struck and killed by a motorist at a school bus stop in 1999. That devastating misfortune galvanized his desire to make a difference by placing a priority on increasing accessibility to organ transplants.
The pursuit began with donating all of Dalton’s organs, which impacted about two dozen recipients awaiting donors. When he ran and won a seat in the General Assembly, Treasurer Folwell carried that determination with him.
“If I could find a way to save a life, save a mind or save money, I was committed to striving for success,” Treasurer Folwell said.
As a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, he championed the Heart Prevails Bill (SB538) in 2007. The legislation had long been stalled before he tackled it and solved the impasse. The bill made the heart emblazoned on the state driver’s license legally binding, first-person consent to donate for those 18 and older. This legislation was crucial in ensuring that an adult’s final wishes for organ donation were honored. In its first year of implementation organ transplants increased 58%. He later worked on legislation to reduce the blood donor age to 16 with parental consent.
In 2012, then-Rep. Folwell also worked with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles to create and offer a branded Donate Life NC license plate to further increase awareness of organ, eye and tissue donation. A portion of the money generated by those special tags goes to transplant centers to financially assist families when a loved one is receiving donated organs.
Donate Life North Carolina is a collaborative group of organizations that promote eye, organ and tissue donation. Working together, the member organizations are directly involved in supporting donor families and facilitating organ, eye and tissue transplants across the state. Its mission is to inspire all North Carolina residents to save and enhance lives by registering as organ, eye and tissue donors. Learn more at DonateLifeNC.org.
Deanna Kerrigan, Executive Director of Donate Life NC, Treasurer Dale Folwell and Synthia Folwell