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Dr. Kasi McCune
Physician Award

Surgical Director of the Pancreas Transplant Program at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Not only an accomplished surgeon, she has spearheaded important medical research in the areas of pancreas and kidney transplantation, advancing outcomes for countless patients. Dr. McCune’s ability to connect with and provide support to her patients is well-known and evidenced by her strong connection to her transplant patient, Jen Benson, our 2022 Recipient Awardee. Their individual stories are compelling enough, but Hearts for Russ is truly honored to be acknowledging their strong patient-doctor relationship and recognizing their devotion to organ donation advocacy together in 2022.

Jen Benson
Recipient Award

Kidney and Pancreas transplant recipient who was so transformed by the 7-year ordeal that led to her life-saving transplant (from a 19-year old deceased donor), that she is now devoting her full-time efforts to providing support to patients and their families on their journeys to an organ transplant.  She founded The Transplant Journey, a non-profit dedicated to empowering individuals and their families with knowledge and guidance to positively affect the transplant experience.  Jen’s tireless devotion to the cause is infectious and proven by the many other transplant recipients she has enlisted to give back and help others in need.

Brenda E. Cortez
Donor Family Award 

Since donating her kidney 17 years ago to another mom she barely knew, Brenda has felt her kidney donation was a gift for her as much as it was to the other mom. Brenda has devoted her life to spreading awareness and writing both children's and nonfiction books on the subject. She is the creator of the Howl the Owl ®️ children's book series. HOWL stands for Help Others With Love. Her book, "Because of Organ Donation", was published in 2021, and book two will be out in 2023 which will feature organ donation pediatric stories.

Dr. Linda Addonizio

Physician Award

Dr. Addonizio pioneered the pediatric transplant program at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, ultimately serving as Director of Pediatric Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure and Transplantation at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital.  She has impacted the lives of countless children and families and is recognized for her decades-long career and steadfast support of the transplant community.

Glenda Daggert & Ira Cooperman

Recipient Award

Glenda and Ira have been a part of the organ donation and transplantation world for more than 20 years since Glenda received a simultaneous kidney/pancreas transplant from an unknown deceased donor in June, 1999.  Their leadership and contributions to numerous organ donation organizations have made a profound difference and saved lives.

The Miller Family

Donor Family Award

Following the sudden passing of Laura Miller (Susan's daughter, Sara's sister) in 2009, Sara and Susan have turned their unspeakable tragedy into action, awareness and personal growth.  Sara founded the non-profit Student Organ Donation Advocates (SODA) which has chapters in over 40 colleges and high schools nationwide.  Susan has written a beautiful, inspiring and educational book called Permission to Thrive: My Journey from Grief to Growth.


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Dr. Robert Montgomery
Physician Award

Our Physician Awardwill go to Robert A. Montgomery, MD, the Chairman of Surgery at NYU Langone Health. Dr. Montgomery is a kidney transplant surgeon and innovator in the field. Two years ago he was the recipient of a heart transplant from a Hepatitis C positive donor and has worked to try to promote this practice throughout the world. In addition to his tireless efforts in the medical domain, Dr. Montgomery has consistently spent time with organ transplant organizations, such as Long Island TRIO, and recognizes the importance of post-transplant support and the advocacy required to increase organ donor rolls.

Chris Klug
Recipient Award

Our Recipient Award will go to Chris Klug, a three-time Olympic snowboarder and liver transplant recipient from Aspen, Colorado. 18 months after receiving his lifesaving transplant, Chris won a bronze medal in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games for snowboard racing, making him the first and only organ transplant recipient to compete in the Olympics, winter or summer. In 2003, Chris founded the Chris Klug Foundation, a national nonprofit organization to help save lives through organ donor registration and encourage healthy, active lifestyles post-transplant.

Bill & Ann Corbett
Donor Family Award

Our Donor Family Award will go to William & Ann Corbett of Floral Park, NY. Judge Corbett and his wife Ann have been married over 50 years and have both led successful careers while giving back to their community. As he approached his late 70's, Judge Corbett started to experience kidney failure and faced difficult prospects for a transplant considering his age. His answer was his amazing wife Ann, who donated a kidney to her husband three years ago. They both continue to work and thrive. Theirs is a story of love, devotion and service to the community that you simply must hear on October 8th.

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Dr. Frank Darras

Physician Award 

Dr. Darras is the medical director of the renowned kidney transplant program at Stony Brook University Hospital. Dr. Darras has a lifetime of achievement in the kidney transplantation space and his outreach, education and advocacy activities are well known within the organ transplant community. Fun fact: earlier this year Dr. Darras successfully transplanted a kidney into New York Mets legend Ed Kranepool.

Roxanne Watson

Recipient Award

Since receiving her heart in 2010, Roxanne Watson has become a beacon of hope for potential recipients through her tireless advocacy for the cause of organ donation. Her efforts (including an appearance on Oprah where she was introduced to her donor family) have caused over 10,000 New Yorkers to sign the organ

donation registry.

The Cutinella Family

Donor Family Award

Following the tragic passing of their son Thomas in a football accident at the age of 16, Thomas' giving spirit

remains alive. A natural born leader and selfless individual, he signed up for the organ donation registry when he received his learner's permit and through his gift of life he was able to save several lives. The Cutinella family

has created a foundation in Thomas' name and have provided scores of scholarships for local students and give

generously of their time to the cause of organ donation registration.



Dr. Lewis Tepperman

Physician Award

Dr. Teperman is Vice-Chair of Surgery and Director of Organ Transplantation at Northwell Health and Professor of Surgery and Medicine at The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Health. Dr. Teperman has a lifetime of achievement for improving outcomes for transplant recipients as well as important educational initiatives in the organ transplant community.

Jeff Fenn

Recipient Award

Multiple kidney recipient Jeff Fenn has dedicated his life post transplant to important causes such as Long Island TRIO. Jeff has led TRIO's School Education program since 2010 and his advocacy for organ donation registry has reached over 60,000 youth.

Christine & Myles Macchio

Donor Family Award

Christine Macchio will accept the Donor Family Award on behalf of her husband, Myles Macchio, who passed away suddenly in March, 2018. Myles was raised in Garden City and had a large circle of friends. His love of life and adventurous spirit was infectious. He met his soulmate Christine in high school and they were together for 35 years. Later they moved to Seaford Harbor, where once again, Myles’ love of life and kind spirit made him a fixture in the community. Myles was committed to helping others in need and although he is no longer here with us in the physical world, he continues to serve humanity as an organ donor.


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Dr. Warren Zuckerman

Physician Award

Dr. Zuckerman is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Program for Pediatric Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure and Transplantation at Columbia University Medical Center and the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York.  Columbia-Presbyterian is a world leader in heart and organ transplant surgery. 

A Brooklyn native, Dr. Zuckerman did his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and attended New York University Medical School.  His residency led him to a fellowship at Columbia in the Pediatric Interventional Cardiology program and eventually to doing what he loves—working with youth and using his skills to help them through heart transplantation. 

Dr. Zuckerman met Lauren Shields at Columbia pre-transplant and they bonded in more ways than one.  He has been there for Lauren as a doctor through her medical setbacks and triumphs, but also as a calming spirit, a jokester and commiserating New York Rangers fan.  However, it was Lauren in 2009 who inspired him to pursue the field of pediatric heart transplantation.  Theirs is a special story.  Dr. Zuckerman is married with three young children and resides in Manhattan. 

Lauren Shields

Recipient Award

Lauren received a life-saving heart transplant in 2009 and her life was not only saved but transformed. Lauren is active in her school, and she is also an outspoken champion in the organ donation movement.  Most recently, in New York, she lobbied for a bill that Governor Cuomo signed into law that bears her name—Lauren's Law. The law makes it mandatory to answer the organ donor question on the DMV form when you register or renew your license. Since then, organ donation ranks have grown significantly in our state--more than 1 million additional people a year have become organ donors in New York State due to Lauren’s Law.  Along with county government officials & LiveonNY, Lauren started a successful campaign at naturalization ceremonies to encourage new citizens to   become donors. Its success is now statewide.

Lauren also devotes her time to educating others on the importance of being a blood donor by speaking engagements in conjunction with the NY Blood Center and she also works with The American Heart Association in conjunction with their Go Red for Women Campaign. Lauren speaks at many local events but has also spoken at St. Patrick's Cathedral, the American Heart Association Heart Ball in NYC & CT, Columbia University's Student Leadership Summit, and her story has been featured on national news networks.

James Mateiko

Donor Family Award

Hearts for Russ recognizes a donor family that has given the gift of life in the face of sorrow and personal tragedy, and persevered in order to do what they can to help our community.   

We honor James Mateiko, who has been involved in organ donation for over 12 years.  He is the LI TRIO Sports Committee Chair, past board member of National TRIO, Gifts of Life advocate and donor son.  His many activities, which have also included speeches, marathons and even triathlons, have been in memory of his mom, Theo, who passed in 2005.

Jim Mateiko, Sr. is a dedicated father and grandfather who gave the gifts of life through organ donation when his wife of 35 years, Theo, passed. He is an active snowbird who participates in LI TRIO activities when he flies up north. 

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