Brian Steinman was staying with his twin brother Aaron in Keswick, Ont., last December when tragedy struck. Aaron Steinman and his fiancee found him in the basement. He had just collapsed after suffering a stroke.
The 26-year-old was rushed to hospital, and even after he was put into a medically-induced coma and given numerous tests, doctors delivered the news to Steinman’s family that he had died.
But because Steinman was an organ donor, his heart lives on, as do his lungs, kidneys and liver.
In all, his organs have given six different people another chance at life.
“He would do anything he could to help you,” said his brother, adding that Steinman always put others before himself.
“The world lost somebody that it needed,” Aaron Steinman said
Transplant patients in this country could use a lot more of the kind of generosity Steinman showed. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, nearly 4,000 people were awaiting organ transplants at the end of last year. The overwhelming majority of Canadians support organ donation, but less than a quarter are actually registered as donors.
The Brian Steinman Charity Classic is born
Steinman’s mother Cindy says he turned down high-paying jobs because he wanted to make a difference in his community.
Steinman chose to work at Hockey Helps the Homeless — a charity championing the underprivileged and raising money to combat homelessness in communities across Canada — where he was hired by director of operations Matt DiPasquale.
“He needed to make sure that friends, family, colleagues… that everyone was settled and then he could focus on himself,” said DiPasquale, who became a good friend of Steinman’s over the years they worked together.
“He gave so much to other people.”
DiPasquale says Hockey Helps the Homeless raised $17,000 immediately following Steinman’s death. Knowing Steinman’s affinity for helping people, DiPasquale pitched an idea to the family, hoping they could raise even more money for a cause of their choosing.
Steinman was an avid baseball fan, so DiPasquale suggested they start a tournament in his name.
“When he started fundraising for the tournament, it just added to it,” says Cindy.
The Brian Steinman Charity Classic, which has raised nearly $30,000 at the time of publishing, will run Saturday in Unionville, north of Toronto. where the Steinman family is from.
The tournament runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Crosby Park. DiPasquale says he expects four teams this year, but hopes the tourney will have more than one diamond in the future and more teams will be able to take part.
An urgent need for donors
After Steinman died, his mother was inspired to learn more about organ donation in Canada.
She decided the money raised will go towards the Canadian Transplant Association and Camp Kivita, located in Bracebridge, Ont.
The camp gives children who are medically stable after receiving an organ transplant, or those living with end-stage organ disease, the opportunity to attend camp at no cost.
Stacey Bar-Ziv, one of the camp’s directors, says it’s in its 13th year of operation and 70 children attended this year, but the camp’s funding is entirely from private donors.
“Camp is really a very special place,” said Bar-Ziv, adding the shared space helps them realize together that they’re not alone, that others have had the same experience.
“They do their swim test, they take off their shirts and they compare their scars. It’s awesome.”
Bar-Ziv is ecstatic to receive a donation from the Steinman family, saying that with the cost for each camper hovering around $1,500, the charity classic will give a lot of children the chance to attend.
She also hopes to drive forward the message around organ donation in Canada.
“We are one of the countries that has one of the lowest rates of organ donation,” said Bar-Ziv.
“We’re not doing great.”
The Canadian government says with over 4,300 people across the country waiting for an organ transplant and only a fraction of Canadians registered as donors, the need is critical.
“He was an organ donor. He saved people’s lives,” said Steinman’s mother, adding it’s important to have conversations about organ donation and for more people to consider becoming donors.
“People are living because of his generosity.”
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