Dad ‘forever grateful’ after life-saving surprise at Richmond Flying Squirrels game

RICHMOND, Va. -- Life sent Kent Winter a curve ball two and a half years ago when his kidneys failed, putting him on dialysis and a wait list for a new kidney.

Winter thought he was throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Richmond Flying Squirrels game Saturday to raise awareness about organ donation.

"Looking to generate more awareness in the community about the opportunities about being an organ donor," Winter said. "In my situation, there's over 1,500 people, just in Virginia, waiting for a kidney transplant. Not that may people realize that you can give that gift while you're still alive."

Winter said the past two and a half years have been "extremely challenging."

"Every time you see that phone call -- and it's an 804 number -- you just don't know, is this the call? " he said.

Kent Winter watches from the mound as his friend reveals he will be his living donor.

Kent Winter watches from the mound as his friend reveals he will be his living donor.

CBS 6 Photojournalist Cole Pearson captured the magical moment that happened next. That is when Winter learned that one of his friends, Jason Hasty -- who appeared on the video message board from Florida -- was Winter's match.

"Dude, you're good at secrets," Winter told Hasty, who was watching via video call. "I look forward to seeing you when you get back from Disney."

Winter, whose friends and family were in on the surprise, was overwhelmed.

"I've got a lot of sneaky friends who pulled this off," Winter said. "There's no way to pay them back, but part of him is going to live on through me now -- and I'm forever grateful."

On Tuesday Julu 23, Papa John's 18 Richmond locations will be holding a fundraiser.

One dollar from every order taken will go toward the Richmond branch of the National Kidney Foundation.

 

Reporter Laura French captured the big surprise live on her Facebook page. Click here to watch the video. And watch CBS 6 News Sunday at 6:30 p.m. for Tracy Sears’ update on Winter’s journey to find his donor.

If you would like information on becoming a living donor, you can contact Melissa Van Syckle at the Virginia Transplant Center at 1-877-626-4581. 

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