Martin family honored with 2021 Heart of Gold Award

E-T staff report

Stephenville resident Cherie Martin was honored during Friday night's Stephenville High School football game as the recipient of the 2021 Heart of Gold Award.

According to previous E-T reports, each year, money raised from donations and Heart of Gold T-shirt sales is presented to help the family of a person who has been struggling with some form of illness. This year's event raised $17,238.

This marks the 12th year that SHS has had a Heart of Gold recipient. Eleven years ago, Joseph Gillespie, Jeffrey Thompson and Mitch Copeland organized a White Out game to honor Presley Boydstun. That became the Heart of Gold event — a Stephenville tradition.

Cherie Martin, third from left, was honored during Friday night's Stephenville High School football game as the recipient of the 2021 Heart of Gold Award. Each year, money raised from donations and Heart of Gold T-shirt sales is presented to help the family of a person who has been struggling with some form of illness.

According to information from Stephenville ISD, in May 2018, Martin was care flighted to Texas Health Resources in Fort Worth after blood vessels in her esophagus ruptured. After emergency surgery, she was diagnosed with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver.

For three years, Martin relied on her faith as she consulted with a variety of doctors and liver specialists. At the beginning of 2021, doctors placed her on a transplant list.

After completing a series orientation and tests with a transplant team at Baylor Scott and White All Saints, Martin was placed on an expedited liver transplant list.

Through this process, doctors discovered she had a rare autoimmune hereditary disease that causes cirrhosis and liver failure.

At 4:30 a.m. on July 2, Martin was called and told that there was a match for her transplant. She had been on the list for 80 days.

"She was blessed and gifted with a second chance at life," the SISD information reads. "Currently, there are over 100,000 people waiting for the priceless gift of organ donation. Every 10 minutes another patient is added to the national registry to wait for a life-saving transplant."

#DonateLife is a non-profit organization that raises awareness and education about the power of donation. The Martin family encourages those interested to become an organ donor to "help change the odds for patients in need."

The Martin family, Cherie, Michael, Hailey and Hayden, are pictured with officials from the Heart of Gold program during Friday's Stephenville High School football game, where Cherie was recognized as the 2021 recipient of the Heart of Gold Award.

Cherie and her husband, Michael, are both 1995 graduates of Tarleton State University and have been members of the Stephenville community for 31 years.

Cherie is a first-grade teacher at Chamberlin Elementary and Michael works at TCEQ and has been a long-time member of the Stephenville Athletic Booster Club.

They have two children. Hailey is a 2018 graduate of Stephenville High School. She runs track at Tarleton and plans to gradate in May with a nursing degree. Hayden is a junior at SHS where he is a member of the varsity Yellow Jacket football and baseball teams.

The family are members of Timber Ridge Church.

"Being the Heart of Gold recipient says much about our community's capacity for great compassion and generosity, and we hope it sends an inspiring message to others about the importance of organ donation."

Previous Heart of Gold recipients

• 2020: Francisco Rodriquez

• 2019: Noah Constancio

• 2018: Lauren Elise (“Lolo”) Loredo

• 2017: Family of Julie Carrillo

• 2016: Luke Nelson

• 2015: Seth Gilley

• 2014: Dayami Castillo

• 2013: Boyd Mabry

• 2012: Maddie McLemore

• 2011: Jacoby Conger

• 2010: Brent Morrison