CONCORD, NC (WBTV) - Jason Ray was a high school class clown in Concord who became a Tar Heel mascot at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In a horrible story, he was hit and killed by a car at a game during the 2007 Final Four.
In what became a well-known silver lining, Jason's parents carried out his wishes and donated his organs. Then they started the Jason Ray Foundation. It's a great group -- I've emceed multiple events for them over the years.
Saturday afternoon marks a real milestone.
The organ donation clinic at UNC Hospitals (on the campus of Chapel Hill) will be renamed, "The Jason Ray Transplant Clinic".
His parents are ecstatic.
"I want to invite everyone to the naming celebration," his mom Charlotte tells me. "I am so excited. I want Jason's friends to know."
One man who will BE there is David Irving... pictured on the right.
David never met Jason, but received Jason's kidney and pancreas and is alive because of him.
"David calls us every two weeks to stay in touch," Charlotte says. "It's amazing to know that part of Jason will be at the dedication."
Separately, Jason's heart went to a man named Ronald Griffin. Ronald lived four years longer, but died due to kidney complications. Ronald's wife, Stephanie, donates to the Jason Ray Foundation every month to show her appreciation.
"I could go on forever and fill pages and pages about people that have helped our Foundation and our son's desire to help others," Charlotte said. "We are so appreciative of everything that has helped us get where we are."
Though Charlotte and Emmitt Ray are some of the most modest parents around -- they won't point out what they've accomplished since their son's death -- it's definitely worth noting that they drive this foundation. They never lose passion. Their goal is to raise a million dollars (A MILLION DOLLARS!) for the clinic, which is why the clinic is being renamed.
Take a moment to think about the importance of organ donation.
Nine years later, his memory is still teaching us all.
Hopefully Saturday is a beautiful Carolina Blue day in Chapel Hill.