by Lea Sobieraski
Geneseo senior women’s basketball player Lea Sobieraski was voted a member of the 2015 Allstate/WBCA Good Works Team this past season. One of only 10 honorees from across the nation, she was given the opportunity to take part in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Final Four festivities in Tampa, Fla. in recognition of her volunteer efforts with Upstate New York Transplant Services (UNYTS) in spreading awareness about blood and organ donation. Using her own personal experience receiving a life-saving liver transplant in 2013, she and the rest of the team participated in numerous community service projects in conjunction with the award. Here, Lea recounts her experiences in Florida for the RAA Newsletter.
“We have an opportunity to have an impact.”
Those were the powerful words WNBA superstar Tamika Catchings left with me and the rest of the 2015 All State WBCA Good Works Team. Being selected for this distinguished award and representing Geneseo at the Women’s Final Four was such a special and surreal experience. It’s hard to truly capture the memories created and friendship formed in Tampa.
Through organ donation, I was given a second chance at life, endless opportunities and the chance to make my mark. Being able to share my story and raise organ donation awareness has been incredibly rewarding in many ways. Seeing the impact my efforts have on others has made my journey fulfilling and meaningful beyond words. The selection to the Good Works Team reflected these accomplishments and provided me with another opportunity to have an impact.
While in Tampa, I had the opportunity to meet nine other remarkable women who have also committed themselves to improving their community, all of which made me want to be a better person. We all had different stories but shared a common passion for helping others and making an influential impact.
We all got to participate in the “Tournament Town” celebration and also got to sit courtside for the Connecticut-Maryland semifinal game, all while enjoying the beautiful Florida sunshine! We had the chance to meet Danielle Donehew, the executive director of the Women’s Collegiate Basketball Association (WBCA), who shared with us her journey of hard work and persistence. Hearing from her, as well as Ms. Catchings, was a great learning experience and made me hungry to achieve my life aspirations. It was quite an honor to be amongst so many exceptional and accomplished individuals.
However, my favorite and the most meaningful part of the week was volunteering at the Moffitt Cancer Center with the rest of the Good Works team, which made the trip unforgettable. We aided in putting together care packages for children whose parents are affected by cancer. We met a family of six who had spent many of their days at Moffitt as their mother had been fighting breast cancer. It’s not often you come across patients with such positive and brave spirits. Their love for one another and faith was so touching and beautiful.
We also went into patients’ rooms and gave them basketballs with our signatures and words of hope. The way their faces lit up with joy is something I will never forget. This personally was a moment of extreme gratitude and sentiment, because not too long ago, I was in a hospital bed fighting for my life. The fun times shared and spotlight recognition were a great part of this experience and something I am extremely thankful for. However, it was the feeling of extreme pride and gratefulness that made this opportunity so fulfilling and memorable as I would have never been granted this award or be living this radiant life if it was not for my organ donor.
Being a member of the 2015 All State Good WBCA Good Works Team was a reflection of my passion for advocating organ donation and the impact I have had. Like Tamika Catchings shared with us, “we have an opportunity to have an impact.”
Life is too short to not make the most of it.