It turned out there were 85 painted rocks place in the Maple Ridge Gratitude Garden this weekend, more than organizers could have hoped for, said Deb Pearce.
“Thank you to the transplant heroes and to all the contributors to our garden,” she said Monday morning, following Sunday’s reveal.
“I know I’ve thanked you a million times already for what you’ve done for me, but I was just thinking what my life would be like right now if I was still on dialysis three days a week, and what my chances [would be] of catching the coronavirus. Thank you, thank you so very much… love ya.”
This text message came across Debi Pearce’s cellphone screen, bringing with it a huge smile to her face.
Home convalescing with a broken hip, the local realtor typed back to fellow Maple Ridge resident Geoff Dunsire: “You’re welcome. No worries.”
It’s been almost a year to the day since Pearce donated one of her kidney to Dunsire.
At the age of 13, an adverse reaction to a hepatitis-B vaccine caused an incurable liver disease that he battled for the next 17 years of his life. Then, just after liver failure and a transplant, as well as losing the ability to walk, Dunsire found out he needed another transplant. His kidneys were failing.
Pearce read about Dunsire’s plight in The News, and felt compelled to help out, ultimately donating one of her own kidney’s to the young man.
Now 31-year-old and resuming a normal life, Dunsire is eternally grateful to Pearce, and is not ashamed to say it – over and over again.
While Dunsire is appreciative to Pearce, he’s also grateful to the provincial transplant staff who helped change his life last June. And it’s for those folk that he and Pearce have recently set up a Gratitude Garden in Maple Ridge.
Just outside of Pearce’s front door, in a traffic island at the intersection of Zeron Avenue and Tamarack Crescent, the pair have erected a “rock garden” of sorts.
In recent weeks, Dunsire and Pearce asked their family and friends to join them in painting rocks. Those decorated rocks have since been gathered up to fill the island, which also has signs saying “Transplant Hero[e]s Rock,” and “Gratitude Rock Garden.”
As of Friday, there were about 30 rocks adorning the small garden, with more coming in every day, Pearce noted.
“We are excited to be a part of this wonderful way to express our thanks and gratitude to all of the transplant heroes, especially during these challenging times,” Dunsire’s mother, Tracey, interjected.
“We want to lift their spirits and make them smile, and show them how much they are appreciated every single day – we can’t think of a better way than this,” she added, noting there’s still lots of room for more rocks.
“We would love to make this as big as possible! Invite your family, friends, kids & grandkids to be a part of our team and let’s fill this garden with love,” Tracey suggested.
Dunsire’s support team is coming together this Sunday morning, at 9 a.m., at the traffic island to take a socially distance appropriate photo that will be shared during a B.C. transplant heroes week running Monday, June 1 through Friday, June 5.
While the garden was originally intended to be a tribute to the transplant team, Pearce hopes it will live on past next week. She wishes to see it become a community-wide gratitude garden.
“It is meant to uplift the spirit of those walking by with its positive message of thanks,” Pearce said, grateful herself to have such a meaningful tribute located right outside her front door.
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