Marilyn Bartucci was not ready for cold lemonade on the beach, spending her days on the links or puttering around in a garden. The Cleveland native had recently retired, sure, but she had plenty left to offer.
During her storied career, Marilyn spent 27 years running the organ transplant program at University Hospitals, and 12 years as senior manager of scientific affairs at Astellas Pharma. Debbie May-Johnson, Eversight Director of Philanthropy in Ohio, knew Marilyn through the years and understood her friend had vast experience in the eye, organ and tissue donation field.
So, in the spring of 2013, she called Marilyn to see if she would be interested in becoming an Eversight Ambassador, joining a group of dedicated people who promote corneal transplantation and build greater acceptance for eye donation.
“Ambassadors are crucial for Eversight to achieve its mission,” Debbie said. “Marilyn is dedicated, prompt and professional. I knew she would fit right into the Eversight culture, and she has become one extraordinary volunteer.”
After Debbie’s phone call, Marilyn started visiting the office once a week. Four years later, she’s done a bit of everything. As a detail-oriented person, she is perfect for helping with the Eversight Lasting Legacy program that connects donor families to the people who received their loved ones’ donations.
And that’s just the start. She reviews patient clinical charts to make sure they meet Food and Drug Administration requirements, puts together educational packets for cornea recipients, and helps run Eversight booths at events scattered throughout the Cleveland area.
“What’s great about the Eversight Ambassador program is that there are all kinds of roles to fill,” Debbie said, “from helping out in the office to working events and raising awareness about the importance of eye, organ and tissue donation.”
As an Ambassador, Marilyn sees up close what the Eversight mission means to people in need. At one of the first events where she volunteered, attendees wore blindfolds to experience, just for a moment, what it’s like living in complete darkness.
Years before, actually, Marilyn worked with diabetic patients who were legally blind when she coordinated kidney transplants. To this day, she still has not stopped doing what she can for the blind and sight-impaired.
“Volunteering is rewarding for me as well. You’re giving back while educating the public about eye donation and what Eversight is doing,” Marilyn said. “Plus, the people have been wonderful to work with and very much appreciate what I do. It makes me feel great.”
The Eversight Ambassador program is a community of volunteers who celebrate the gift of sight and inspire others to embrace donation. Learn more!