"I have been amazed and inspired by the stories of the lives we have saved because COTA was the last hope for a patient and their family - and we came through for them in their time of need!"
The person who made that statement is Tony Paganelli, an attorney who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife Dawn, and their children, Jack and Brooke. In October 1998, Tony joined the Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA) Board of Directors at the request of COTA Chairman Emeritus George Taliaferro. "You just cannot say no to George," Tony laughed. "I was a clerk for his wife, Judge Viola Taliaferro, when I was in law school and I have known George for several years."
Tony and Dawn joined The Hope Society, a group of contributors who make gifts to COTA through estate planning or, in Tony's case, through the purchase of life insurance policies for COTA's benefit.
"I see my role as a COTA Board Member as an opportunity to work to benefit transplant patients throughout the country, whether they are COTA patients or not," stated Paganelli. "Dawn and I have been blessed (with their children). We sat down and asked each other what we could do to help others, as we find ourselves doing so well," Tony said. "We felt we could, and should, do something as we count our blessings."
When asked why he chose to purchase a $100,000 term life insurance policy, with COTA as the beneficiary and owner of the policy, Tony responded, "Dawn is a licensed life insurance agent and when we discussed this idea, we called Rick (Lofgren) to see if COTA would accept the policy and allow us to leverage this gift from our current resources. Our becoming parents strengthened the cause of saving kids' lives, and that really motivated us to do this. After witnessing the life-saving work we do at COTA, I asked myself, 'what if it happened to someone in my own family?'"
For only $22 per month, Dawn and Tony have created a future (sometimes called a planned or estate) gift that will pay COTA $100,000 when Tony passes away. "I am young enough to provide a gift, which hopefully will not be made for some time, to benefit our COTA kids."
"There is a un-written rule of fund raising that states, 'Once a person makes a planned gift, their life expectancy increases by 10 years or more,' so we hope Tony lives for many, many more years," joked COTA president Rick Lofgren. "Life insurance gifts such as this allow donors an opportunity to leverage their donation to make big gifts to organizations like COTA without breaking the bank."
As a student at the University of Notre Dame, Tony was a volunteer for the legal services council, and was active in the Optimist Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters during his time as a law student at Indiana University. He is currently a member of the Indianapolis chapter of Toastmasters International, and is active in the Indiana State Bar Association. "We have made a similar gift to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, and hope to make additional life insurance gifts to Notre Dame and Indiana University in the coming years."
"I felt we should set an example by making this gift, as well as being registered organ and tissue donors," commented Dawn. "We are able to leverage our gifts to help the kids COTA works with daily."
If you would like additional information about how to use life insurance (or other planned gift vehicles) so you can also make a significant gift to benefit COTA patients, please contact Rick Lofgren at 800-366-2682.
There is no obligation to request the information, and the material is personal and is not shared with anyone.