One year after the tragic passing of 15-year-old organ donor Peyton Evans — an Ocala Forest High School cheerleader who was featured in the April 2015 edition of News+Notes — her family had the opportunity to meet her heart recipient.
The meeting took place May 16, when roughly 200 of Evans’ friends and family gathered for the First Annual Pey it Forward Fun Run 5K — an event organized to give back to the Ocala community and celebrate her legacy.
In an emotional moment at the event, Evans’ mother, Amy Whittemore, knelt down to hear her daughter’s heart beating inside recipient Bailey Baldwin’s chest.
“It was overwhelmingly emotional,” Whittemore said. “I felt an immediate connection with her. It was comforting.”
Evans saved four lives through the donation of both her kidneys, her heart and her liver. The recipients ranged in age from 7 to 50.
Baldwin was 7 when she received Evans’ heart at UF Health Shands Hospital, and this was the first time the two families met.
“They’re a wonderful family,” said Tia Aultman, Baldwin’s mother. “They’re the sweetest people I’ve ever met. I feel very connected to them.”