Dan Ballard Portrait

Dan Ballard's Story

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IRAs: A Legacy of the Heart

At 6-foot-3, Dan Ballard's stature matched his dynamic personality. He left his bold mark on the world in many ways -- as an artist, an advocate and a philanthropist. At CHKD, Dan's impact changed the landscape of the hospital and continues to help others in the community every day.

Dan spent his professional career building one of the most respected advertising agencies in the region. Lawler Ballard Advertising won awards and accolades and gave many of the country's brightest creative minds their start in the business.

However, Dan's true passion literally became one of the heart. In 1991, after years of heart disease, Dan got a second chance as the recipient of a heart transplant. Inspired by his experience, he poured his creative energies into raising awareness about organ donation.

Dan found a perfect outlet for his endeavors at CHKD. Betty Harmon Edwards, former chairman of the CHKD board and wife of Dan's physician, Dr. Oz Edwards, asked Dan to help establish and fund a memorial to honor children at CHKD who had donated their organs to others.

Dan's wife Melinda remembers his enthusiasm. "He wanted to do whatever he could to make it happen," she says.

Thanks to Dan's commitment, the "Butterfly Promise" tribute garden was dedicated in 1998 at CHKD. It's a tranquil park on the hospital grounds with trees, benches and a myriad of flowers that attract butterflies. The centerpiece of this special space is a collection of copper butterflies along a 27-foot wall. Each butterfly is inscribed with the name of a child who became an organ donor. The butterflies were chosen as a symbol of metamorphosis -- where one life ends, another continues.

The garden has become a powerful place for families of children who made this ultimate gift and also for those who received the life-saving organs.

"Every community should be so fortunate to have a guardian like Dan Ballard. I have had countless families describing what a place of solace the garden has become, when difficult decisions and life circumstances have brought themthere for reflection and direction," says CHKD's transplant coordinator, Debbie Anderson. "He made a dream come true for us. This lets us show our families we care, in life and in death. They deserve no less, and it wouldn't have happened without him."

Dan's heart transplant gave him many more years than expected. Twenty-one years after his surgery, he lost his life to cancer. Still, Dan made sure his presence would continue at CHKD through his ultimate act of generosity -- a legacy gift to the hospital from his estate.

"Dan had a passion for organ donation and a passion for CHKD," Melinda says. "He never wanted to stop giving back."

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