Western Washington University student Nicole Duncan has received a national leadership award and scholarship. Duncan, a Western sophomore majoring in Business, received the inaugural Students for Organ Donation Youth Leadership award and a $500 scholarship.

Now just 20 years old, Duncan founded the Associated Students for Organ Donation Club and Chapter in the fall of 2005. She received her award in the Viking Union on April 21.

Duncan was motivated to create the club because of her experience of watching her mother wait for a kidney transplant. After her mother finally received the life-saving transplant, Duncan decided to educate her high school and college about the underappreciated need for organ donation. In fact, 18 people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant. With this and other statistics in mind, Duncan set out to create more awareness in her community.

It didn’t take long before Duncan’s efforts to educate began taking effect. In just a few short months, the club went from nonexistent to having over 90 members, quite a feat for a start-up AS club. Members have been active at Western, and have planned several events on campus and in the larger community. These events include raising money and awareness at the Big Brothers and Big Sisters’ “Bowl for Kids Sake” event, coordinating Saturn’s Organ Donation Awareness Day, and taking part in Western’s annual Kappa Karnival.

Duncan’s club, besides planning, coordinating, and assisting with events, also has the goal of informing Western students and Bellingham residents about the life-saving power of organ donation. The club encourages people to register their wish to be a donor. Because of the club’s efforts, hundreds of local residents have registered to be donors, and thousands of people in the Bellingham area are more aware of the importance of organ and tissue donation.

In addition to Duncan’s personal leadership award, the club has received a National Spotlight Award for their efforts to promote donation in the Bellingham area.

“Nicole’s varied donation promotion activities have touched many lives, and will continue to do so for years to come,” said Maggie Adams, the Marketing Program Manager for the Living Legacy Foundation. Adams worked with Duncan during Duncan’s internship with the Living Legacy Foundation.

While Duncan created the on campus club and local chapter of Students for Organ Donation, the original organization was founded in 2003 by Richard and John Ludlow. Like Duncan, the Ludlows witnessed a close family member wait for a kidney transplant. They decided that they wanted to create an organization that focused on college campuses. Today, there are over 50 chapters of Students for Organ Donation in the United States and Canada. Students for Organ Donation provides resources and mentoring opportunities, helping to unite chapters and creating a strong foundation for organ donation awareness. Students for Organ Donation is a student-run nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting organ and tissue donation awareness.

Duncan initially learned about organ and tissue donation through her involvement with and internship at the Living Legacy Foundation and LifeCenter Northwest. Like Students for Organ Donation, the Living Legacy Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by LifeCenter Northwest Organ Donation Network, a federally designed organ procurement organization.

For more information, visit www.studentdonor.org.