One family’s darkest hour, turned into a mission to save lives.
Zach Roth went about that mission by creating a club at Hillsborough High School called Donate Life.
He created the club while he was a junior in honor of his late older brother, Matthew Roth, who donated his organs that saved people’s lives.
“We heard from one recipient of my son Matthew’s organs. She was a woman who had a younger daughter and was thanking us,” said Denise Roth, the mother of Matthew and Zach Roth. “She received his pancreas and kidney. She said because of Matthew she would be able to see her daughter grow up. After we received that letter my son Zach said he wanted to do something in honor of his brother and have it be about organ donation.”
Matthew Roth, 24, passed away in 2015 after an accident that was caused by two individuals who were involved in drag racing.
“He was brain dead after the crash. The hospital asked us if he wanted to be an organ donor,” Denise Roth said. “Oddly enough, Matthew and I had that conversation before. He had wished he had put that on his license when we had our conversation. I knew that his wish was to be an organ donor.”
She said with his organ donations he saved five people.
The Donate Life club was officially established in 2017 and has maintain a student membership of about 20 people, according to Denise Roth.
“The club has also been able to raise about $6,000 for the NJ Sharing Network’s foundation. The foundation is focused on donated organs and tissue for those who need it,” Denise Roth said.
The club held for its first time a volleyball tournament on March 31 at Hillsborough High School. The tournament involved students and parents.
“The volleyball tournament was mainly to get the high school students involved in the club and organ donation. The club was able to raise about $1,000 that day,” Denise Roth said.
The tournament kicks off several events for the club in the coming months, which includes April, a month considered Donate Life Month, according to Denise Roth.
“There will be a fundraiser this month, every May we honor an organ donor family, in June we have a team enter a 5K race each year to raise money for organ donation,” Denise Roth said.
Her son Zach is now in college at Virginia Tech and the club this year is now being led by two Hillsborough High senior co-presidents. The two leaders are Alisa Nualplub and Brielle Seidel.
“We were worried that with Zach going to college the club would not continue, but they both came forward and said they wanted to run the club,” Denise Roth said. “They have been amazing. Three juniors that will be seniors next year are poised to take over the club after Alisa and Brielle graduate.”
She said almost all the students in the club are certified ambassadors by the NJ Sharing Network, which means they are trained to speak on organ donation.
“This club means so much,” Denise Roth said. “In our darkest hour, the fact my son could give the gift of life to others just gave us comfort. There are so many lives that can be saved with organ donation. People’s lives can be saved just by getting the word out there.”
She said with the club allows her family to tell her son Matthew’s story, which allows his memory to live on.
“We do not want him to be forgotten. He would do anything for anybody,” Denise Roth said.
The club also honors former students Jared Colon and Joseph Hernandez who were organ donors themselves.
Roth said Beth Colon, the mother of Jared, helped in her family’s effort to create the club at the high school.