Sally Phillips lost her son, Scott, nine years ago and chose to donate his organs. Since then, she has promoted the cause by volunteering for organ donation committees, speaking at events and providing support to those who have lost family members.
Mollie Triplett, one of Phillips' co-workers at Wesley Medical Center, said she is inspired by how Phillips helps others.
"She provides that extra little helping hand for those families, and she always does it with class," Triplett said.
This weekend, Phillips and her family will be in Pasadena, Calif., at the Rose Bowl parade to honor Scott's life and to encourage organ donation.
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Phillips, who lives in Newton, said she received a call last year from a friend of Scott's who works for Donate Life, an organ donor foundation in Los Angeles that hosts a float in the annual Rose Bowl parade.
"The theme this year is 'Seize the day,' and she immediately thought of Scott because that was his mantra,'' Phillips said. "He signed all his cards and letters with that, or 'carpe diem.'''
Midwest Transplant Network, an organ donor foundation in Kansas City, Kan., plans to use a photograph of Scott for its floragraph — a picture made of flowers and organic materials — this year. The floragraph will be featured on the float in Saturday's parade.
Cyndi Chapman, Phillips' boss at Wesley Medical Center, said watching Phillips mourn the death of her son made her ponder the sorrow of others in Phillips' position.
"I can't even imagine what they went through — whatever support those people can give each other is huge because we can't give it," Chapman said. "We can say, 'I'm sorry you went through that,' but I'm never going to be the one that says, 'I know how you feel,' because I don't, and I don't want to know how it feels."
Phillips said she is thankful to use her loss as a way to comfort others.
"If I have the chance, I say to people, 'I know how you feel; I know what you're going through,' because I would have loved to have had that," Phillips said.
Scott Phillips, a Kansas State University alumnus, died at age 29 when he was attacked outside a sports bar in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he was living.
Scott was class president in high school, president of his fraternity at K-State and president of K-State's education council. He spoke at middle schools across the country about self-esteem.
Phillips said knowing her son's organs are helping eight people allows her to feel like his life is still making an impact.