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Poker run honors memory of Amanda Clark

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POSTED April 20, 2009 12:36 a.m.
By VINCE REMBULAT
Staff reporter of the
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
April is National Organ Donor Awareness month.
For Manteca’s Jose Zaragoza and his family, this is a matter that’s near and dear to him.
More than three years ago his 16-year-old son, Matthew Zaragoza Van Gelderen, an East Union High football player, was fatally injured in a non-league game at Bear Creek High.
Matthew, who suffered a brain contusion that Sept. 16, 2005, died a week later. But Jose and his wife, Zona, made the decision to donate the boy’s heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas for transplant surgeries.
Today, Jose Zaragoza is a representative for the California Transplant Donor Network and Donate Life. He and his family met two recipients of Matthew’s organs, including a nationally televised segment of the Montel Williams Show.
“I know that the girl was able to have a baby,” Jose Zaragoza said. “She probably would not be alive today if not for Matthew’s organ.
“I’m so happy for her.”
On New Year’s Day, he proudly displayed his portrait of his late son while riding on the CTDN float in the 120th annual Rose Parade in Pasadena.
This past Saturday, Zaragoza took part in the third annual Poker Run honoring the memory of Amanda Louise Clark.
A poker run is an organized event, in this case, using motorcycle to travel along a designated route. Participants draw cards at each of the stops, with the best poker hands earning top prizes.
Clark, who was born March 19, 1988 in Manteca, was a 2006 graduate of Oakdale High. On March 27, 2006, she took part in her first-ever poker run with her father, and enjoyed it so much she wanted to do one every year.
But on her way home, Clark, who was 19, was killed in a single-vehicle car crash.
“Amanda had decided early on in her life to be a giver,” said Bonnye Spray, Clark’s mother. “She donated blood at every blood drive and wished to be an organ donor.
“Following her request, seven of her organs were donated, giving these people and their families a better life.”
As a way of carrying on her last wish, family and friends hold a poker run each year in memory of Amanda Clark.

To reach reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail vrembulat@mantecabulletin.com


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