Local ESL Jefferson Award winner receives national honor


When Richard Perez learned he would need a new liver, his life changed forever.

He would tell you it changed for the better.

He has dedicated his second chance at life to making sure others have a life. He received the ESL Jefferson Award here in Rochester and represented our region at the national awards.

And Thursday night Perez was the sole recipient of the national Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Award.

Here's why his volunteer work stood out among the rest.

"After you get your transplant you might come back several times for minor things," stated

Perez gets to know almost every transplant patient at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Patient at Strong Memorial: "I feel great."

Perez: "Well that's how you feel after you get your transplant...you feel brand new."

Perez understands the journey far better than most. That's because he too is a transplant recipient.

He remember's well, that day in 2002, when he was told he would need a new liver.
"'I need a liver?  What time will that be? I come back later?' But it wasn't like that. You know, the first thing that my surgeon mentioned to me was 'no. You have to go on a list.'"
It was then he learned that patients wait months for an organ. That very day Perez began his long career of volunteer service tirelessly working to register organ donors.  
"I went to the health fairs in the community. I went to every single place that you can imagine. I even set up tables in parks when there was a baseball game."Continue reading