Each day, more than 100,000 people wait for a solid organ transplant while thousands more search for a bone marrow/stem cell/cord blood match for a second chance at life.
One such individual lives right here in East Texas – 10-year-old Marshallite Anthony Herman. Diagnosed with congenital aortic stenosis at birth, Anthony has endured nine open-heart surgeries in the past decade. However, the consideration of a heart transplant is no longer simply an optional course of care, but has become a necessary treatment for his future.
Volunteers Julie Willis and Bryan Partee, who attend church with Anthony and his family, are leading a community fundraising effort with Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) to assist with transplant-related expenses. Leading the volunteer team, they are seeking to raise $60,000 over the next month through local events and an ambitious global social media launch. The COTA campaign in Anthony’s honor, known locally as Anything for Anthony, seeks also to bring attention to the critical need for organ donation.
“Every dollar we raise will go toward transplant-related expenses for a child like Anthony,” said Mrs. Willis, Community Coordinator for the local COTA campaign. “This campaign has already shown the world what we can do when we come together in East Texas. People have been so generous…far beyond what’s been asked of them to help a child they don’t even know.”
Mr. Partee, the campaign’s Webmaster, is overseeing the social media launch and has orchestrated the collection of photos of people from around the world clasping their hands together in the shape of a heart as a show of support for Anthony’s transplant journey.
In addition to their service to this campaign, both Mrs. Willis and Mr. Partee have dedicated countless hours to working with area youth through the arts and education.
Mrs. Willis serves as a mentor for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Big Pines, as vice president and member of the scholarship committee for the Marshall Music Club, and as a board member for Friends of Trinity at Trinity Episcopal School. She was born in Longview, Texas and has lived in Marshall for 23 years. She graduated from Texas A&M University-Commerce with a bachelor of science degree in music. Mrs. Willis and her husband of 13 years, Stephen, have one daughter, Devon, 11. The Willises are active members of Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Marshall where Mrs. Willis serves as a member of the Hospitality Committee.
“In order for a community to thrive, I feel like each person has a part to play in its success,” Mrs. Willis said. “I genuinely love my hometown, and it is a joy and privilege to be able to serve my community in whatever way I can.”
Mr. Partee was born and reared in San Diego, California. He earned his bachelor of science degree in psychology from the University of California-San Diego. Mr. Partee relocated to Marshall in 1995 and currently serves as Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Big Pines. Actively involved in the community, Mr. Partee has served on community advisory boards for Sam Houston Middle and Travis Elementary Schools, as well as Texas State Technical College. He has also previously served as a City Commissioner and an Assistant Governor for Rotary International. Mr. Partee and his wife, Karen, have been married 15 years and have one son, Noah, 5. The Partees also attend Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Marshall where Mr. Partee serves as an elder.
“I believe that I have a good life. God has given me a great family. I am in a job I love. As a way to say thank you, I should use my time and talent to help others,” Mr. Partee said.
For more information about the COTA campaign in honor of Anthony Herman, or to learn more about organ donation, please visit www.COTAforAnthonyPatrickH.com.