patrick pruitt

Meet board member & recipient Patrick Pruitt who advocates for the gift of sight

Eversight Orbit: Learn about our Michigan Advisory Board & its efforts to continue changing lives

Editor’s note: Welcome to Eversight Orbit! A new blog series featuring the remarkable people who comprise Eversight’s vast network. Get to know the dedicated team members and partners who play a critical role in making vision a reality. 

By Caroline Miller, Marketing & Communications Specialist 

Patrick Pruitt was only six years old when he received a cornea transplant. The way his family was treated by Eversight, then known as the Michigan Eye-Bank, left a lasting impact on his life, making him want to immerse himself in the donation and transplantation community.  

At a young age, he visited local Lions Clubs and told his story to raise awareness of the gift of sight. Now, at 38 years old, Patrick is the Vice Chair of Eversight’s Michigan Advisory Board and the head of the Outreach and Development Committee. Eversight’s Michigan team works with Advisory Board members like Patrick who volunteer their time to help Eversight advance its mission through public education and philanthropic giving. 

“We're individuals who aren't Eversight staff,” Patrick said. “We're just people who have an affiliation or a connection with Eversight who want to be able to serve the organization by sharing our skillset and our expertise.”  

The Michigan Advisory Board comes together every year to help organize and support local Eversight outreach events and fundraisers. One example is Eversight’s annual Golf for Good! event, a chance to raise awareness and charitable support for sight-saving transplants and vision research through a round of golf. 

Patrick Pruitt golf

A personal favorite of his is the Michigan Donor Family Gathering event held each year in collaboration with Gift of Life Michigan to honor and celebrate the donors and their families in the state for that calendar year. 

I value the opportunity to speak with donor families because they're really at the heart of what makes this whole thing work,” Patrick said. “Without donors, there would be no transplantation. 

The Michigan Donor Family Gathering gives Patrick the opportunity to say thank you to the families who have made the selfless decision of allowing their loved ones to be donors at an unimaginably difficult time. 

As vice chair of the Michigan Advisory Board, Patrick is responsible for assisting the chairperson, Joshua Richmond, in planning events and runs the Outreach and Development Committee within the board. 

“It's the largest committee that we have on our board because it's so aligned with our mission to come together and develop outreach events and fundraise,” he said. “We try to figure out, okay, here are the things that we've done in the past, how can we do them better?” 

Eversight Philanthropy Director Alex Teska is the point person for the board. She works closely with board members and connects them with areas of Eversight’s mission that they would like to have an impact on. 

Through his work on the board, Patrick gets to meet new people in the donation and transplantation community, share his vision story, and interact with Eversight staff. 

Patrick Pruitt family
During Eye Donation Month this year, I went to the Red Wings game with my friends and sat next to a couple the woman had just started at Eversight a year or two ago, and it was a really great way to interact and cross paths with somebody at Eversight in a more casual setting and get to know them,” he said. 

Patrick has been able to create so many meaningful connections with donor families and transplant recipients, all because of his transplant 22 years ago and the unforgettable impact it had on him. 

“It was a scary time for my family, but interacting with the eye bank really helped us to feel more comfortable and supported as a recipient family,” Patrick said. “In the years since, I've had the opportunity to work with Eversight and in various capacities sort of as an ambassador role going out and speaking on their behalf.” 

Patrick still has the same cornea gifted to him over two decades ago. He says the cornea has been functioning perfectly and everything that he’s seen in that time would not have been possible without his donor’s cornea. 

It's not just the physiological process of vision, although certainly that's part of it, but it's all the emotion and memory that's been formed from all the things that I've seen from the time that I was six up until now,” he said. 

Patrick lives his life with the guiding value that the enrichment of a recipient’s life would not be made possible without donation. He understands firsthand the love and meaning behind that selfless gift from each donor and their family, including the gifts that are used for research and education. 

“Research is important in a different way than transplantation,” Patrick said. “To be able to give support to the people who are trying to improve treatment and cures for eye diseases – that's critical.” 

Patrick is beyond grateful for the chance to see a beautiful world and loves being able to give back through Eversight’s Michigan Advisory Board. You can read more about his vision journey and ways you, too, can change lives. 

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