Event Honors Former Warhawk

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Oct. 22, 2014 By Ryan Altman

When Alex Scarbro was ready to get her driver’s license in high school, she had the immediate desire to become a registered organ donor David Scarbro said.

He had spent ample time debating this decision with his daughter because it was something he never wanted to deal with in the future.

“I didn’t want to think about it at all,” Scarbro said. “I was against it, but she was not a person to back down from a decision.”

David Scarbro later caved in, letting Alex Scarbro register as an organ donor.  He didn’t know it at the time, but the choice he made ended up being a life-changer for both him and two others a couple years later.

Scarbro, who spent her freshman year at Whitewater in 2011, was also a member of the Warhawks women’s basketball team. In 14 games, Scarbro played sparingly for the ’Hawks.

Following her death in November of 2012, 20-year-old Alex Scarbro officially became a cornea donor.

As part of the Illinois-Eye Bank’s 29th Annual Run for Vision 5K at Grant Park in Chicago last Sunday, Alex Scarbro was honored for donating the gift of sight to a pair of distant strangers with corneal blindness.

“Alex’s eyes were beautiful; they were her best feature,” David Scarbro said in an Illinois-Eye Bank press release. “It makes me feel so good to know there is a part of her that lives on to help others see again. Alex and I always loved watching sunsets together, and knowing now that someone else still gets to see those sunsets through her eyes is pretty awesome.”

Her recipients were a woman from New Lenox, Illinois, and an 8-year-old child in Akron, Ohio.

David Scarbro was one of many family members and friends in attendance Sunday to help honor Alex Scarbro’s memory. He described his daughter as “someone who was always looking to help others,” so it was natural that she would make the choice to donate.

“[The 5K] was a really awesome event,” David Scarbro said. “It was really bittersweet, but good that she was honored.”

Brittany Wright, community relations liaison for the Illinois Eye-Bank, said the 5K annually attracts roughly 300 runners and has collectively raised over $250 thousand for the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) in their efforts to restore sight worldwide.

More than 40,000 corneal transplants are done each year in the United States according to the National Eye Institute.

“The EBAA has a conference every year for a whole weekend in Chicago,” Wright said. “It brings together the entire ocular community.”

In remembrance of Alex, the team wore patches with the initials ‘AS,’ later making a run to the Division-III Final Four, dedicating their performance to her.

“It’s tough to lose anybody when they’re that young and have so much life left to live,” head coach Keri Carollo told the Royal Purple in 2012. “She was a really special kid. The short amount of time that she was with us, she lived life to the fullest. She was a really good friend and a really good teammate.”

As runners crossed the finish line, the Scarbro family handed out gathering cards that included a picture of Alex Scarboro standing at the free-throw line, dressed in her Warhawk uniform. David Scarbro called it Alex Scarbro’s ‘icon’ picture.

Also, included on the back, was small passage about her life and information on how to reach out to the Illinois-Eye Bank.

David Scarbro felt this was a fitting way to help remember Alex Scarbro and spread awareness about becoming a donor.

“The card has her ‘icon’ picture,” David Scarbro said. “The whole experience was really amazing. I encouraged a lot of people to [become donors]. No words can describe the feeling of it.”

As the two-year anniversary of her passing approaches, David Scarbro and his family remain grateful for the support they have received. He also remains comforted, knowing that others continue to benefit from her donation.

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