Michael Dillick, Donor
Dimes from Michael
Posted January 6, 2011
John and Julie Dillick have found hundreds of dimes since their son, Michael, died after being hit by a drunk driver in February 2005. “We noticed, as we started saving them, that they were found every time we felt sad or even happy and wished Michael was here,” says Julie. “Everyone in the family finds dimes and we all know that Michael is near.”
The dimes were first found along a newspaper route that the family worked daily. Michael, age 22, was out getting newspapers in the family cargo van when he was hit head-on by a wrong way driver on I-70. He survived that impact only to have a drunk driver barrel through the scene.
Dillick was transported by ambulance to St. John’s Mercy. A short time later, with family and dozens of Michael’s friends present, his parents heard the devastating news. Michael was brain dead and would not survive.
“I think I immediately said to my husband, organ donation,” says Julie. “Michael didn’t mark the box on his driver’s license to be an organ donor, but he and I had talked about the issue while watching medical television shows. I thought this was the right thing to do.”
Michael’s heart, kidneys, liver, bone, tissue and corneas all were donated. In the long grieving process, the Dillicks became advocates of organ and tissue donation awareness — all the while finding dimes, in the hallway, the laundry, on sidewalks, and in stores.
“Donation is a way for us to let life go on,” explains Julie. “Even though I still cry about Michael’s death, I go to schools in the area and talk about his life and the critical issue of not drinking and driving because it can have devastating consequences.”
Nine months after Michael died, the first Michael Dillick Memorial Benefit Dance was held. “We had over 500 people at the first dance and we still hold the benefit every year in October, with different people hearing about it and coming to honor Michael as well as support organ and tissue donation. We hand out organ donor cards and DONATE LIFE bracelets. All of the proceeds go to Mid-America Transplant Services, the organization that arranged for Michael’s organs to go to people who needed them.”
The Dillicks have heard from both a heart transplant recipient and a kidney recipient. They are active participants in local organ donor awareness events and workshops and also have traveled to the U.S. Transplant Games as donor volunteers.
“A lot of Michael’s friends are getting married now and his best friend recently got married,” says Julie softly as she tears up. “ But as we were going to his wedding, I opened the car door and there was a dime.
“He’s still here,” she says. “I’m so proud of the way he lived his life. He still lives on in the people whose lives he changed. And I believe the dimes are a visible sign that he knows we’re still thinking of him and he’s letting us know he’s okay up there in heaven.”