CSA Finalist: Carolyn Berry

In life, you can do two things with tragedy, either let it get the best of you, or use it to make a difference.

It's the latter that's put Carolyn Berry of Pine Bluff on the list of nominees for a 2013 KARK 4 Community Service Award.

"One of my favorite sayings is don't sweat the small stuff. Just go and live every day to the fullest," Berry says.

She is doing just that these days. Not even an injured foot can keep this grandmother from slowing down.

A now familiar face at St. Vincent Infirmary, Carolyn speaks to nursing students once a week. One of her many roles as a volunteer for ARORA, the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency. And what a story she has to tell.

"My story begins a long time ago in 1995," she says. "I just began to feel very very badly. I was diagnosed at that time with cardiomyopathy with ventricular tachycardia, heart disease with a fast erratic heart rate."

In 2002, Carolyn retired from a teaching career she loved, and received two heart transplants within a six-year period. She hasn't missed a beat since.

"She is very dependable. She's very loyal and very outgoing. She's just a wonderful person," says Bobby Walker, an ARORA volunteer coordinator.

A living, breathing, walking, talking testament to the power of organ and tissue donation is how Walker, a transplant

recipient himself, describes Carolyn, his first and most loyal volunteer.

"I think people don't realize how important organ donation is and how it can affect a lot of lives," Carolyn says. "My first thought, am I going to die? The more people who are aware of it and the more people who will sign up to be organ and tissue donors, the more lives that can be saved from tragedy. I am able to do the things I once did and enjoy life to the fullest."

When asked if she could tell her donation family one thing, her response: "A great big thank you. There are no words adequate to express to them my gratitude, my thankfulness that they gave me this second chance to live," says Carolyn.

Carolyn is just one of dozens of Arkansans being recognized for their hard work. If you know someone who is deserving of a community service award, click here to nominate them.

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