As Upper Arlington's City Manager, Ted Staton directs hundreds of employees and impacts thousands of residents. "All aspects of the day to day operation of the city are my responsibility,” said Staton. “What kinds of police cruisers we buy, the policies we use to plow snow, pick up leaves, patch potholes."
What this suburban CEO couldn't manage, was his diabetes and the kidney failure that resulted- a situation doctors told him couldn't continue. "It was really important for me to get off of dialysis as soon as possible," he said.
Staton’s life was about to intersect with that of a 17-year-old girl from Gahanna.
"She was somebody who always wanted to make you feel better. She was a big hugger. She just wanted to lift your spirits,” said Sara Dietrich, of her daughter Sydnee Williams.
Last October, Sara and her husband Brock got the call every parent dreads.
"Because Sydnee wasn't wearing her seatbelt, she was ejected from the car. That's where she suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result," said Brock Dietrich.
Their 17-year-old daughter would not survive.
"I thought when my dad passed away it was the worst feeling I could ever have,” said Sara. “When we lost Sydnee it was a whole other level of pain."
Before she was laid to rest, Sydnee's parents honored a decision she'd made years earlier - to leave behind a gift that would change the lives of people she'd never met.
"That was Sydnee's nature that she wanted to give to other people. So she elected to be an organ donor," said Brock.
"The call came, I believe it was a Monday morning, that there were organs of a good match," remembered Ted Staton. He received Sydnee's kidney and pancreas, liberating him from his dialysis machine and daily insulin injections. "I traveled to the Caribbean for Spring Break. I never would have been able to do that."
Always around his wrist, and never far from his mind, is a reminder of how his new life became possible. "I don't think I'll ever lose the memory of this young woman whose generosity benefited me so greatly, but who was denied the opportunity to live a full life," said Staton.
Her parents say Sydnee's gift has also helped them.
"I don't know if it makes the grief more bearable, but it definitely gives a sense of peace that this was done,” said Sara. “That out of this horrific thing came some good."
On Saturday morning, the Dietrichs and Ted Staton will remember Sydnee together at Lifeline of Ohio's "Dash for Donation" 5k run and walk.