Jared Colon. Photo: Courtesy of Beth Colon
When the Colon family decided to donate their son Jared’s organs, after the 17-year-old was tragically killed last July by a single punch to the head during a fight, they hoped the gesture would help other families in need.
Recently, Jared’s mother Beth Colon discovered that her son’s legacy has done exactly that, and more, for one anonymous kidney recipient who surprised her with a touching letter of thanks, calling the late Hillsborough, New Jersey teen his “angel and blessing.”
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The anonymous letter, courtesy of Beth Colon. (click to enlarge)
“I honestly couldn’t even read the letter, I was crying so much,” Colon, an operations and social media manager for Habitat for Humanity, tells Yahoo Parenting. “I’m living every parents’ worst nightmare, of losing a child, and still cry every day. To get that letter was a glimmer of sunshine. It gives me hope that something good came out of this.” The Colons gave Jared’s organs to the New Jersey Sharing Network and knew of six transplants from the donation but this is the first contact made by a recipient.
“I will never be able to thank you enough for giving me a second chance at life but I vow that I will cherish every moment and carpe diem (seize the day),” wrote the 37-year-old, weeks after he underwent a successful transplant. “I have six kids; five sons and one daughter and it was difficult to enjoy life with them. I was too weak to participate in family activities…Now I have an opportunity to run with my youngest baby girl [who] will turn two years old in a couple of months. My boys can’t wait to challenge me in a game of basketball.”
Colon admits she still struggles daily over the senselessness of Jared’s death – from a single punch to the head, during an argument between the teen and a 16-year-old in the Colons’ yard (His assailant has been charged with second-degree reckless manslaughter). In tough moments, she turns to the letter. “I read it often,” she says, adding that she’s made a “billion” copies of it and shared it with family.
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“You hear of miracles all the time about kids who come back from bad things and we didn’t get that,” she says. “I got robbed of that. So it feels so good to know that the people who got Jared’s organs can get better.”
During a visit to the nurses at the NICU where Jared was treated, Colon says she was also thrilled to learn that all four of her son’s heart valves had been transferred into different pediatric patients. “I think a lot about that mother, looking at her child and praying for a miracle, and knowing that that miracle would take another mother losing a child.”
Jared Colon. Photo: Facebook
Colon says donating Jared’s organs helped her focus on the positive. “His sisters feel good about it too,” she says. “And this is something Jared would have wanted, I know.”
The only thing that could bring her family greater comfort would be meeting the kidney recipient who wrote the letter. “I’d love it if he wanted to,” she says, admitting that she wonders if he’ll read this story and recognize himself. “To hear more about his story would really help me heal too.”
Until then, she continues to take solace in the recipient’s gracious words. “I wish you peace, love and faith knowing that this young man has restored life in me,” he wrote. “And I will not take that for granted.”
The Colons have established the Jared Colon Memorial Fund with the goal of teaching children how to deal with anger issues. Their mission is to help kids “learn to talk out our problems and not resort to physical force to solve them.” For more information or to make a donation, visit http://pacf.org/jared-colon-memorial-fund/.
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