By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON | Union Leader
Simeone provided life-saving kidneys for Jeanette Dsouza of Boston and Charles Zayat of Rhode Island, who gathered this past weekend to remember their generous organ donor and his passion for riding.
The two kidney recipients met Simeone’s parents and fiancee while dedicating the Lawrence Road dirt bike park and naming it the Jon Simeone Memorial ATV Park.
“I feel like I have got a new lease on life, and I don’t know if I would be here without Jon,” said Dsouza, 67, who was on the national organ transplant waiting list for about three years.
She had been on dialysis since 2004, and was gratified when Simeone’s kidney turned out to be a perfect match. On May 29, 2010, Dsouza received Simeone’s kidney, and she has been dreaming of the day she would have the opportunity to meet his loved ones.
“I feel like I am a part of their family now,” she said, adding it was an emotional day filled with tremendous gratitude and love.
Simeone, 20, died last May doing what he loved most, riding bikes. Four days after his motorcycle struck a deer on the Everett Turnpike in Merrimack, Simeone succumbed to his injuries.
But his journey was not yet over, according to Tanya Shenk, a close family friend.
“Jon’s wish was to save others,” said Shenk. “And not only did he save two lives, but he saved two families and helped preserve their legacies.”
The Lawrence Road bike park was dedicated in his honor on Saturday during a brief ceremony attended by dozens of friends, relatives and Gov. John Lynch.
Zayat said he was proud to be a part of Saturday’s event, saying he was anxious to meet the family of his donor.
“I know that some families prefer not knowing all of the details, but I really wanted to find out about my donor and learn his story,” said Zayat, 68, who is a diabetic and was on dialysis since 2002. Now, Zayat says he is healthier and happier, and owes that to a young man he never even had the privilege of meeting.
Roger Blais, president of the New Hampshire Right Riders club, helped organize the dedication of the bike park. His father, Richard Blais, built a kiosk describing the history of the park and Simeone’s biography.
Simeone’s mother, Candy, called Saturday the “angelversary” of her son’s death, describing him as a child full of life, her best friend and a hero at the time of his passing.
“Thank you both for agreeing to meet us and becoming a part of our family,” she told the two organ recipients in a crowd of tearful spectators.
Candy Simeone plans to host helmet awareness days at the park, reminding dirt bike and motorcycle riders about the importance of wearing safety gear such as helmets. She is also using her family’s tragic story to promote the importance of organ donation. Last August, she organized a memorial concert to help raise money for the New England Organ Bank, and about 60 people registered that night to become organ donors.