UNC Hospitals Honors Former Mascot Jason Ray

UNC Hospitals has officially named their transplant center after former UNC mascot Jason Ray.

His father Emmett Ray talked to UNC about the dedication.

“I think it’s incredible because he loved Chapel Hill and he loved UNC,” he said. “I just think what a legacy for a 21 year-old.”

Jason Ray traveled with the UNC men’s basketball to New Jersey in 2007, fulfilling his duties as Rameses, when he was struck by a vehicle.

He died three days later, but out of his death came life.

Ray was an organ donor and has been credited with saving more than 100 lives.

“This allows it on a 365-day calendar when anybody comes in to be able to remember Jason in a positive way of what he gave as an individual and what we’re giving to the community,” said UNC professor of surgery David Gerber.

David Erving, who received Jason Ray’s kidney and pancreas, also attended the ceremony.

“He’s actually a part of me,” Erving said. “Wherever I go, he goes. That’s why I wanted to come today, to show my appreciation. I could never thank them enough, or Jason enough.”

When Ray’s death made national news in 2007, over 50,000 people signed up to be organ donors.

In his honor, his family started the Jason Kendall Ray Foundation, which raises awareness and funds for the newly-named transplant center at UNC.

So far they are nearly halfway to their goal of $1 million.

For more information on the Jason Kendall Ray Foundation, visit their website.


UNC Transplant Wing $30,000 Closer To New Name

CHAPEL HILL  – The transplant wing at UNC Hospitals is $30,000 closer to being named after the man who formerly cheered on North Carolina as Rameses.

“That’s just more than we had; that’s the way to look at it,” says Charlotte Ray, the mother of Jason. “Each step that we take—no matter what it is, what anybody does for us—that’s just getting us closer and closer to it.”

Jason died in 2007 after being hit by a car. He was in New Jersey with the UNC men’s basketball team for the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

His organs help save four lives and positively affected so many more. Because of his meaningful story, UNC Hospitals contacted the Jason Ray Foundation with the idea of naming the transplant center after him.

Sunday was the Second Annual Jason Ray Brunch and Silent Auction in which that idea took a few steps closer to reality.

“There was right close to—with the cheerleaders and everybody—I would say approximately 170 people that attended,” Charlotte says. “It was wonderful. We made a little over $30,000.”

Jason’s parents were left with the terrible burden of having their son taken from them without warning, but Charlotte says moments like Sunday when people come together to pay tribute makes it a little bit easier.

“Everybody’s been just so generous and supportive that it’s just therapy to think what a legacy this is for him,” Charlotte says.

Donations can always be made to the Jason Ray Foundation by clicking here. There’s one more event this year at which people can contribute: the Fifth Annual Jason Ray Golf and Silent Auction August 25 and 26 in Davidson, North Carolina.


Life…The Ultimate Gift

Jason Ray was full of life. This was evident as his amazing energy transformed a simple costume into a jumping, pumping, running Rameses that made Carolina crowds cheer, wave, and shout.  But Jason’s life was cut short when he died in a hit-and-run accident while at the NCAA Basketball Regionals in March 2007.  That did not stop Jason, though, from accomplishing his goal of sharing his energy, his optimism, and his love of life with others.  Jason was an organ donor.

Jason’s organs have helped over 50 people with the gift of life.  Jason’s friends, family, and UNC fans know, though, that Jason would have wanted to do more.  So they are working to raise over $1 million for the UNC Center for Transplant Care.     Donations will be used to benefit patients who have undergone solid organ transplantation at UNC Hospitals.  When the $1 million goal is reached, the Clinic at the Center for Transplant Care will be renamed in Jason’s honor.

You can help. This Sunday (April 29th), the Jason Ray Foundation is hosting a fundraising brunch and auction at The Carolina Club, featuring terrific food, music by The Clef Hangers, UNC Cheerleaders, emcee Ron Stutts and, of course, Rameses. 

The keynote speaker for the event is UNC Women’s Soccer Coach Anson Dorrance.  Jason’s parents, as well as Dale Folwell, Speaker Pro Tempore of the North Carolina House of Representatives, also will speak at the event.  Rep. Folwell sponsored NC House Bill 1372, The Heart Prevails Act, which allows an individual to indicate on his/her driver’s license that he/she is an organ donor. Rep. Folwell and his wife lost their seven-year-old son, Dalton, in 1999 and allowed him to be an organ donor.

Reading about Jason, and how he touched people during his short life, is inspirational.  Here is an excerpt from the Jason Ray Foundation’s website:

Jason was in many ways larger than life.  Not only was he 6’5” with a personality to match, he was dedicated to helping others.  When he was 13 he went on a mission trip to Puerto Rico, followed by Haiti and Honduras, to help at orphanages. By the time he was 21, he’d been on three mission trips and was dedicated to helping those less fortunate.  He loved life and he loved his family and friends.  You could feel it when you were around him.

When Jason got his driver’s license, he checked the box to be an organ donor.  When he went home, he told his mom that he wanted to help others in case something ever happened to him.  When that terrible event happened, his family knew his wishes and honored them by donating Jason’s organs and tissues to The Sharing Network of New Jersey.

NC Men’s Basketball Coach Roy Williams has added his voice to the chorus of Jason’s admirers, saying in a recent video promoting the foundation’s $1 million goal, “I hope everyone will be able to be involved and help . . . . Together, we are Carolina.”

Tickets for the brunch ($100 per person) can be purchased by contacting Kimberly James, Jason Ray Foundation Development Officer, at 919-428-8538.  Those who would like to give but are unable to attend the brunch may make a donation to the Foundation at http://jasonray.org/.