Carly Watson was in her junior year at Florida A&M University when she received a life-altering phone call.
April 7, 2017, Watson received news that her father was in the hospital. Two days later, he died. His death was both unexpected and tragic.
“It was so unexpected and hard. Especially when you’re texting him one minute and then the next minute he’s gone,” Watson said.
“One of the positive things that got us (Watson’s family) through it, was him being an organ donor. Through his organ donation with Donate Life Florida and Life Quest, they were able to save three people and benefit the lives of 52 people.”
Donate Life Florida is a non-profit charitable organization comprised of the organ, tissue and eye donor program throughout the state of Florida. The organization is dedicated to educating Floridians on the lifesaving importance of organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation.
“Donate Life Florida let’s people know the importance of the cause. Everyday 20 people die waiting for a transplant. Without people registering as organ donors, others are not able to get transplants,” Donate Life Florida representative Coral Denton said.
In April of 2018 Tallahassee Magazine’s Top Singles reached out to Watson to inform her she was nominated as a Top Single.
“They called me the end of April asking me if I wanted to do it and I said yes. I didn’t know much about Top Singles besides it involving fundraising,” Watson said.
Top Singles is a charity event Tallahassee Magazine puts together every year, with a primary goal of giving back to the community. This year Watson was among 18 other Top Singles nominated. Each individual was able to choose their own charity to represent.
Watson chose to represent the organization which had such a large impact on her, Donate Life Florida, in honor of her father.
“For me, this just hit home. My dad was so giving. He gave up so much of his body for other people. That’s three people’s lives that without my dad may not have made it,” Watson said.
Upon accepting the offer in April, Watson has been hard at work raising money and awareness for the charity.
Denton spoke about the impact Watson has had on Donate Life Florida.
“The fact that Carly chose us was largely influential for us. I think people don’t realize the profound nature of our cause until they are met with someone who has dealt with it. Whether that’s someone who got a transplant and had their life saved as a result, or in Carly’s case her dad passing and saving multiple lives” Denton said. “I think people don’t always connect the impact an organ donor can have.
“I’m hoping that Carly being an ambassador for our cause through Tallahassee Magazine and being personally recognized in the community, makes people want to go register as organ donors. The fundraising is not as big of a deal to me as is the personal connection,” she added.
She has put together four events so far around Tallahassee with all proceeds going toward the charity. In addition, she set up a Facebook page for people to donate to the cause. Watson currently has raised $1,500 and will continue to fundraise up until the main Top Single charity event on July 14.
“Carly has a why that has directly affected her family. She has a direct connection to this charity because her dad was an organ donor. This has made people want to give back and support more,” Mackenzie Ligas, sales and event associate of Tallahassee Top Singles, said.
“She’s willing to stand on a platform that’s public and make such an impact on people.”
Watson is a radio correspondent for The Steve Harvey Morning Show at Blazin’ 102.3. She created a public service announcement regarding Donate Life Florida. In her connection at the radio station, Watson was able to land her PSA on air at 102.3, 96.1 Jamz and Star 98.9.
Through her experience with Tallahassee Magazine’s Top Singles, Watson has garnered a close relationship with Donate Life Florida and plans to continue educating the public on organ donation.
“I don’t want this to be an event where I just picked a charity and don’t continue a relationship with it. I plan to help continue to educate people on registering to becoming organ donors,” Watson said.
For more information on organ donation, visit https://www.donatelifeflorida.org