June 29, 2021
The NJ Sharing Network Foundation’s Betsy Niles Scholarship Fund has awarded a scholarship to Jessica Riepe of Englishtown, NJ, for her passion and dedication to raising awareness of organ and tissue donation. Riepe was presented with her scholarship award at the NJ Sharing Network’s headquarters in New Providence during a private ceremony with her family members in the Landscape of Life Meditation Garden.
Riepe is a 2021 graduate of Marlboro High School, and she plans to attend Holy Family University in Philadelphia the Fall. Her connection to donation and transplantation came when her closest cousin passed away and became a donor in 2016. Riepe recalls how difficult this time was for her and her entire family, but she was so inspired by her cousin’s selfless gift of life that she shares his story with anyone who will listen. Riepe soon joined Marlboro High School’s Donate Life Club where she has met many others with connections to donation. Riepe plans to continue to spread awareness in her community about donation to help educate others about the power and importance that it holds in saving lives.
The NJ Sharing Network Foundation’s scholarship program provides an opportunity to recognize and award graduating high school senior advocates whose lives have been touched by organ and tissue donation and transplantation. The Betsy Niles Scholarship Fund was created in memory of Elizabeth “Betsy” Niles, a lifelong Montclair resident who passed away in 2011 after a tragic accident. Niles spent most of her career in educational publishing and was passionate about helping to improve the education system. Her organ and tissue donations touched the lives of over three dozen people, including a life-saving kidney transplant for one recipient. Dan Sarnowski of Sparta, Niles’ loving companion, established The Betsy Niles Scholarship Fund in 2014. Sarnowski and Niles’ family decided the best way to honor Betsy was through supporting education programs. Betsy’s Dash, one of NJ Sharing Network’s most-prominent 5K Celebration of Life teams, has raised nearly $100,000 since its inception.
“Betsy was known for always giving the perfect gift for every occasion and her last gift was the greatest gift of all – the gift of life,” said Sarnowski, who serves as Treasurer of the NJ Sharing Network Foundation’s Board of Trustees and Betsy’s Dash 5K Team Captain. “I feel it’s a perfect tribute to Betsy to have a fund and a scholarship program in her honor. Jessica serves as perfect example of what it means to take an active role in supporting these important outreach efforts.”
Scholarship applicants were measured on academic achievement, community and volunteer efforts, extracurricular activities and advocacy for organ and tissue donation. The application process included a thorough review by a committee of NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board members and volunteers.
“We are grateful for the generous support of the Betsy Niles Scholarship Fund and their ongoing commitment to rewarding students who share a commitment to our life-saving mission,” said Elisse E. Glennon, Executive Director of the NJ Sharing Network Foundation. “We know that Jessica and all of our scholarship recipients will continue to be strong leaders in educating others about donation and transplantation.”
According to NJ Sharing Network, there are nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents currently waiting for a life-saving transplant, and one person in New Jersey dies every three days waiting for a transplant. Just one organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 people. To learn more, get involved and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.
About NJ Sharing Network
NJ Sharing Network is the federally designated non-profit organization responsible for recovering organs and tissue for the nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents currently waiting for a life-saving transplant. With headquarters in New Providence, NJ, the organization is part of the national recovery system, serving the 110,000 people on the national waiting list. NJ Sharing Network was selected by NJBiz as one of the state’s “Best Places to Work” for the third consecutive year. To learn more, get involved and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.
About the NJ Sharing Network Foundation
The NJ Sharing Network Foundation is committed to increasing the number of lives saved through innovative transplant research, family support, public awareness and education about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. By making a contribution, you empower our efforts, bringing us a step closer to providing the greatest gift of all… the Gift of Life.