Lizzy Benson is spending her senior year at Wooster High School on a mission to save lives.
Benson, 18, has been working to get the word out to students and the community at large about becoming an organ donor.
It's her senior project and also her Girl Scout Gold Award project, but it's also personal.
"Our family friend had been waiting for about seven years for a liver transplant," she said. "She didn't get it and passed away, and she was only 28. About a year later, my uncle got really sick, and his liver failed in the course of a week. He was put on the list immediately for a transplant, but he was unable to receive one," she said.
As part of her project, Benson has been making presentations at other high schools in Washoe County and to local service clubs.
She's also created a Facebook page and designed a pamphlet that she's been able to place at the Department of Motor Vehicles and at the offices of several doctors in town. The pamphlet has one key message: "Donate Life: There are over 100,000 people in the United States waiting for a life-saving transplant."
The pamphlet lists the organs and tissues that can be donated and details some of the common misconceptions about organ donation. Finally, it encourages people to become donors by checking the appropriate box on their driver's license registration form or through a donor registry."
Last week, Benson made a presentation to the Washoe County School Board, encouraging the board to make organ donation awareness part of the health and science curriculum.
She plans to attend Brigham Young University in the fall and major in biology with a long-range goal of becoming a physical therapist. She said she will continue her push for organ donor awareness even after her high school and girl scout projects are complete.
"I think it's so wonderful that she is working so hard to do that," said Debbie Pinjuv, founder of the Transplant Network and Benson's mentor for both her projects. "With her work, she's definitely saving lives out there."
Benson said she feels like her presentations to fellow high school students are being well-received.
"I know as a high school student, it's not something most kids my age really think about," she said. "But after they hear what I have to say, I'm seeing them start to think about it."
"I just really appreciate everything she's doing," said Pinjuv, who is also a transplant recipient, having received a liver in 1999. "She's making it her cause, her mission to go out there and try to promote organ donor awareness. I think it's wonderful. I know it will make a difference."