My dad often spoke of passion and legacy; he would always say it is important to love something and feel passionate about it. And if you are lucky enough to find your passion and devote your life to it, you will then create a legacy.

My dad, Joseph Valentino D’Addio was extremely passionate about helping others. Whether it was coaching sports or mentoring children in town, he always found a way to help people. One day he decided to coach our grammar school’s basketball team, not knowing anything about basketball, just so the kids could have a team. In the upcoming months before the season, he devoted his time to learning the game, which led the team to an undefeated season.

My 50 year old father was full of life, always on the move; therefore it was a shock to my family when on April 13, 2009, while dining with my mom, he suffered a cerebral brain hemorrhage. My father was my family’s superman - never did we think of losing him. We sat in the hospital for days, hoping and praying for a miracle. Days went by and our miracle finally came. Her name was Margaret Moore, Transplant Coordinator for New Jersey Organ and Tissue Sharing Network (NJ Sharing Network). She explained organ and tissue donation to my family, and instantly we knew this is what my dad would have wanted. In his final hour, he had the ability to give the gift of life to others. His passion for helping people allowed his legacy to live on. My dad donated his organs and tissue enhancing the lives of over 70 people.

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Now my dad lives on in others in New Jersey and around the United States, giving people second chances at life they would not have been offered without the generous and helpful nature of people like my father. One of the recipients of his kidneys wrote to our family and shared, “Please find comfort in knowing that I do not and will never take your precious gift for granted. This organ transplant has drastically improved my quality of life and I am now looking forward to many years with my son and future grandchildren.” This man now has a second chance at life. For this and many other reasons, my father will always be remembered.

After this experience, it was important and healing for me and my mom, Alberta to stay connected with NJ Sharing Network. My mom dedicates her time and talents to the life-saving work of NJ Sharing Network and Foundation as a volunteer and board member. I am a new hire working in the Communications Department. Each day I have the awesome opportunity to inspire others by sharing my family’s story, in hope that someday their loved ones can live on in others, just like my dad is.

NJ Sharing Network is the state’s non-profit, federally designated organization responsible for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue for NJ residents in need of life-saving transplants. For information about donation in NJ, contact 1-800-SHARE-NJ (742-7365) or visit www.sharenj.org to register as an organ and tissue donor.