Just over two years ago, after the sudden death of fifteen-year-old Alexis Bonadies, her parents found hope in the darkness of tragedy – an opportunity for Alexis’s legacy to live on through organ donation. Alexis had registered as an organ and tissue donor while getting her driver license in Lee County only months prior to her passing. Thanks to a selfless act of generosity, Alexis saved three lives through organ donation and improved many more as a tissue donor.
Just over five months ago, following a tragic car accident, the parents of sixteen-year-old Erik Babatz found themselves in a similar situation to the Bonadies family – an opportunity for Erik’s legacy to live on through organ donation. Erik, also a registered organ and tissue donor in Lee County, was able to save five lives and improve many more through the gifts of tissue donation.
The heartwarming stories of the Gifts of Life given by both Alexis Bonadies and Erik Babatz will soon touch customers in a unique way with the unveiling of a Tree of Life at the Tax Collector Office in Bonita Springs as well as one at Downtown Fort Myers. The Tree of Life artwork is being specially dedicated to Alexis at the Bonita Springs office, and to Erik at the Downtown Fort Myers office.
The two unveiling events will take place on Friday, July 13 and Monday, July 16. The July 13 unveiling will begin at 7:45 a.m. at the Lee County Tax Collector Office in Bonita Springs, located at 25987 South Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs. The July 16 unveiling will begin at 7:45 a.m. at the Lee County Tax Collector Office in Downtown Fort Myers, located at 2480 Thompson Street.
The Tree of Life is a permanent, visual dedication to organ, tissue and eye donation for clients who visit the office and staff who work there. By saying “yes” when asked “Are you interested in becoming an organ donor?” while receiving or renewing a driver license, customers can designate their desire to be a lifesaver, like Alexis and Erik. Members of the Bonadies and Babatz families will be in attendance at each respective unveiling event and will assist Larry Hart, Lee County Tax Collector, with revealing the Tree of Life artwork to the general public.
Every time a customer registers as an organ and tissue donor during a driver license transaction, they will have the opportunity to sign their name on a leaf and affix it to the Tree of Life. This allows the customer to leave a lasting touch on the office mural, similar to how organ and tissue donation leaves a lasting impact on all who are affected by it.
Donate Life Florida, a service of the LifeLink Foundation, has maintained a strong partnership with the Lee County Tax Collector’s Office since 2012. The partnership began in support of a now-retired employee, Kathy Jackson, who was a kidney transplant recipient. The first Tree of Life was unveiled in April 2013 in South Fort Myers in dedication to Danielle Bogue, another heroic individual who saved lives through organ and tissue donation.