Ambassador Spotlight – Christy Setzke
More than 250 Donate Life Ambassadors in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and western Wisconsin selflessly share their personal stories about donation and transplant so that people in our communities can make a decision about registering to be a donor.
Christy Setzke, Ashland, WI
What is your connection to donation and/or transplantation?
My big brother Todd killed in an ATV accident on May 29, 2001, just 19 days after his 34th birthday. He was an organ donor.
How long have you been a LifeSource Donate Life Ambassador?
I have been a LifeSource Donate Life Ambassador for probably more than 10 years, officially. Unofficially, I began to share Todd’s story after September 11, 2001. That tragedy happened about 5 months after he died; it made me realize once again how precious and fragile life truly is.
What are some of the volunteer activities you do as a Donate Life Ambassador?
I always have wristbands on hand (pardon the pun), ready to give out and share Todd’s story. I share his story on Twitter and Instagram. I have written about Todd for different nonprofit organ donation groups, including the Chris Klug Foundation. I have also shared his story with nonprofit organ donation groups worldwide. I speak to Medical Science classes in our local high school and am working on a book about my experience as a donor sister.
Favorite memory or experience while volunteering as a Donate Life Ambassador.
The first time I met Ryan, donor recipient of half of Todd’s liver, is an experience I will never forget. When I saw him, his mom and sister, a feeling came over me that words cannot describe. Ryan had so many mannerisms that my late brother had that for a moment, I thought I was imagining it; many of Todd’s friends noticed the same thing. The biggest laugh we all had was this: Ryan, due to complications after the transplant, was in a coma for a week. The first thing he wanted when he woke up…BURGER KING! Dolly, Ryan’s mom, told us that he never LIKED Burger King. Now my brother, when Ashland finally got a Burger King, was happy. I was happy because we no longer had to bring home 2 or 3 Whoppers for him if we drove through Superior. Something tells me Todd was trying to make Ryan a Burger King fanatic.
Personal facts you would like to share: family, hobbies, etc.
Todd and I grew up in a very close, loving family. Our maternal grandfather had Alzheimer’s; he never knew who I was. Our grandmother took care of him at home until the end. He passed away when I was in 7th grade. Todd would spend hours by his side, having one sided conversations, holding his hand, and taking walks when they could. We also had a cousin, Kevin, who had Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. Todd loved him like a brother. When Kevin’s legs started not working so well, Todd had our dad find a way to tie a wagon to his bike so he could ride and pull Kevin at the same time. Todd had the biggest heart…many did not see it. My parents did, I did, and his daughters did. Family is most precious to me. I grew up and still live on the Setzke homestead which has been in the family since 1888.
I love to crochet, write, cook, read and do research about both sides of my family.
Any advice for other Ambassadors?
I would say just to be yourself, do not let nerves get the best of you. You are your loved one’s best ambassador and caretaker of his/her story. Be their voice!