Alicia Stillman's daughter Emily was one of a kind.
The Andover High School graduate was studying at Kalamazoo College in February of 2013 when she called her mom complaining of the worst headache she'd ever had. Within 36 hours, bacterial meningitis had robbed the 19-year-old of all brain function, leaving her parents with a decision no one should ever have to make.
"We said goodbye to our daughter, a family of five one last time, and I told her, 'It's okay; you can go, and you be at peace and I will be your voice,'" Alicia remembers.
Heartbroken beyond comprehension, Emily's mom and dad made a choice to do something they had once balked at. They would donate her organs.
"She saved five lives and she saved countless others with her bones and tissue. She's hero," Alicia says, smiling.
As Emily's parents were saying goodbye to their middle child, a farmer from Ubly, Michigan suffering from a rare kidney disease got a phone call. After seven years on the national kidney registry, the father of three young children was about to get a new lease on life.
Today, the Stillmans have a relationship with four out of five of the organ recipients. Emily's mom says they've become part of the family.
"I love to touch our recipients. That to me is the best. That's where Emily's living," says Alicia.
After Emily's death, Alicia says she walked around in a fog for months but eventually decided she was ready to keep the promise she had made to her child in that hospital room. She created the Emily Stillman Foundation in 2014.
Its mission is two-fold: to raise awareness for meningococcal disease and organ donation.
Alicia says it's important for people to realize how a decision at one's darkest moment can change the lives of so many others, and ultimately their own.
"If I could have my Emily back, I would want her back, but I couldn't so all these other lives needed to be saved," Alicia says.
A Night of Laughs
The Berman Theatre
Tuesday, April 14th
5:30 vip $ 250/ 7:30 show $125
The Best of Saturday Night Live
A fabulous silent auction
To celebrate Emily's life and legacy and support the important work of the foundation
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets.
The Vaccine clinic
Saturday, April 25th
Advance Registration required
Requested donation is $300 for the two doses of Bexsero but financial assistance is always available. No one will be denied vaccines.
Menveo doses also available upon request.