By Destiny Bradt
When 18-year old Blake Yokom faced his pending senior project for Nevada Union High School, he knew exactly what that project would be. The “project,” mandatory for all N.U. graduates, had to meet two requirements: It must be finished by June and it must make an important difference to the community.
He thought back to his early years of playing basketball at Western Gateway Park with childhood friend Mitch Adams. He thought of the lack of shade near the courts where they played. He thought of how wonderful it would be to build an enduring shelter, a resting place, for those that find pleasure in utilizing WGP for their own enjoyment. But mostly, he thought of how he could build it in Mitch’s memory.
On Aug. 24, 2015, Mitch was tragically killed in a car accident. (His mom still counts the days, forever knit together with her beloved son.) Authorities, with few clues to the cause of the accident, at least knew that it was not a case of reckless driving. He had been on his way to school, four days into his junior year. He was just 16.
Processing the nightmare of Mitch’s passing, Monica Adams could not fathom having to make the decision of whether or not to donate her son’s organs — a decision that is a parent’s responsibility, if the deceased is a minor. After speaking extensively with his father, Mitch had willingly chosen to sign his donor card, making his intentions clear for the family and saving the lives of five others, including a 16-year old boy in southern California that was the recipient of his heart.
“Some don’t realize it,” Monica says, “but even the arteries and tissues can be used. If all truth be told, Mitch helped the lives of countless others as well.”
For Monica, the tragedy became a campaign to educate others about the powerful impact one can have by becoming a donor. She became an ambassador for Sierra Donor Services, the local chapter for Donate Life, and founded a 5 and 10k in Mitch’s honor (www.5kfor68.com.) At the now-annual event, SDS provides a booth, sharing information and providing the opportunity to become a donor. The funds raised from the race go towards creating a scholarship in Mitch’s name. This past year, $6,800 was raised, a further tribute to Mitch — jersey #68.
No one ever wants to lose a child, but to know that a life was not lost in vain is a gift within itself. And, just as the continuing love and support of Mitch’s friends, such as Blake Yokom, it has played a significant role in the process of healing for Monica, her husband Tom and Mitch’s sister Jorylin.
“He had such great friends,” Monica continues, “To this day they still call…and text…and come by to see if we need help with anything.”
The greatness of those friends is apparent in Blake’s lack of hesitation in building the new gazebo for Penn Valley’s Western Gateway Park. Between working at True Valley Fence and Ranch Supply, graduating high school and enrolling in Butte County Fire Academy, he planned its layout and has been working on its construction steadily. The ribbon cutting is still pending.
Thank you, Blake and all of the other donors and participants that have made Mitch’s gazebo a reality:
Contractor Ron Moen – guidance and supervision; Penn Valley True Value Hardware – lumber; Hansen Bros. – concrete; Hill’s Flat Lumber blue (Mitch’s favorite color) tin roof – JW Enterprise – time and labor in helping to finish the concrete
You have truly made an important difference in the community.
For more information on Donate Life, please visit: donateLIFEcalifornia.org or sierradonorservices.org.
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