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Chamber award for organizer of organ donor awareness

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(Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Donna Frett, a 2005 liver transplant recipient and founder of the Donna Frett Organ Donation Foundation, will receive the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce Frank E. Low Award on Jan. 26.

McHENRY – Donna Frett got a second chance at life.

After suffering from liver disease a good part of her life, Frett was hospitalized on June 6, 2005, with compete liver failure. "I was told I was not coming out."

Two days later, there was a match, and Frett received a liver transplant.

Since then, she has devoted her time and energy to organ transplant awareness. The Donna Frett Organ Donation Foundation has raised more than $78,000 for various organizations, including the Restoring Hope Transplant House in Middleton, Wis., the Illinois Eye Bank, and the University of Wisconsin Organ Procurement Organization.

Her work has resulted in being named the recipient of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce 2013 Frank E. Low Award, which will be presented at its annual dinner Jan. 26.

"She's very deserving," said Bonnie Curry, who nominated Frett for the award. "She has focused her energy on the awareness of organ donation.

There is pain out there and good that comes out of it," said Curry, assistant membership director for the chamber.

"Families of organ donors come away with the knowledge that death wasn't the end. Hope comes from that it wasn't for nothing," Curry said.

Frett, 57, of McHenry, received a liver from Dustin Rozmenoski, a 23-year-old from Black River Falls, Wis., who died in a traffic accident.

"I met the family. We are very close," Frett said. "His mom and I have both spoken together about organ donation awareness.

"I started the foundation as a way of saying thank you to Dustin and his family. I also did it because it's so important that people understand what organ donation awareness is all about," she said. "And to give people a second chance at life like I got."

Much of the foundation's fundraising comes from its annual golf outing, which will be Sept. 7 at Boone Creek Golf Club in McHenry. Frett also is planning a walk/run event in 2014.

Attending the fundraisers are transplant recipients, transplant candidates, families whose loved ones have donated organs, and living donors who have donated a kidney, or partial liver.

"It's a very moving experience. There's the pain of the loss of a loved one, and gratefulness and hope of organ recipients. You can't help but be moved by their story," Frett said.

"McHenry and the surrounding area has supported me for these past four golf outings," Frett said. "People keep coming back. They keep me going."

Receiving the Frank E. Low award, she said, "was a huge surprise. It's just not me. It's my family, my friends, the community. McHenry is a wonderful community," Frett said.

She added: "Receiving the award is huge for organ donor awareness."

The chamber's dinner, “Derby Dance, Run for the Roses,” will begin at 6 p.m. Jan. 26 at D’Andrea Banquets, 4419 Route 14, Crystal Lake.

In addition to the Frank E. Low Award, other awards to be presented include Board Member of the Year Award to Lisa Cowger of Palmarium Home Inspection Services, the Joe Thome Award to Bill and Margaret Bock for their contributions to Fiesta Days, and Ambassador of the Year Award to Kurt Rice of A Better Water Treatment. Alice Mosser of McHenry Savings Bank will be presented with Retiring Board Member honors.

Frank E. Low was involved with the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce in the 1960s and ’70s and the early days of Fiesta Days, making each better because of his enthusiastic touches, according to Kay Rial Bates, president and CEO of the McHenry chamber .

For more information and reservations for the dinner, visit www.mchenrychamber.com.

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