Heart Month: Remembering a Brother’s Legacy

Ryan Sopko

In 2014, Ryan Sopko, of Manville, N.J., lost his health battle while awaiting a lifesaving heart transplant. He was just 30 years old.

Sopko’s family remembers him as someone with a passion for living, who brightened everyone’s day with positive energy and contagious smile.

After their devastating loss, his loved ones decided to do something to keep his legacy alive, so they partnered with the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT), a Memphis, Tenn.-based nonprofit that offers fundraising guidance to transplant patients.

Together Steve Sopko and his children, Megan and Kyle, created a fundraising campaign with NFT called “Ryan Sopko…Forever in Our Hearts.” The family created t-shirts and held a Halloween Fund-Ry-Ser to raise funds and awareness for the campaign.

"We want to raise awareness about organ donation and heart disease while giving to families who are currently going through what we went through,” explains Sopko’s sister, Megan. “Ryan would really love what we are doing; and for him, I would do anything. Recycle your organs and save someone’s life.”

Through their efforts, they were able to help five NFT patients last Christmas by giving them each a $1,000 grant to help with their transplant expenses.

“It’s really amazing to see what this family is doing,” said Claire Prince, NFT fundraising consultant. “They’ve taken what was undoubtedly the darkest time in their lives to create something so beautiful and inspiring to others.”

If you are interested in purchasing a t-shirt, please contact Megan (megansopko@aol.com) or Steve Sopko (sopko.stephen@yahoo.com).

To make a tax-deductible donation in honor of Ryan Sopko…Forever in Our Hearts, please send a contribution to the National Foundation for Transplants 5350 Poplar Ave., Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Please be sure to write “in honor of Ryan Sopko” on the memo line. Secure donations also can be made online.