By Mark Ambrogi
At age 23, Justin Langford tragically lost his life as the result of an accident while driving a flat-bed truck during performance calibration activities for his employer, Allison Transmission, in Flagstaff, Ariz., in May 2014.
His parents, Bryan and Janice Langford, have made sure their son’s memory lives on. As an organ donor, Justin made certain others live on.
The second annual Justin’s Run4Hope is at 9 a.m. May 20 at New Hope Christian Church in Whitestown. The run is to inspire hope and fitness. Proceeds from the 4-mile walk/run, 1-mile walk and half-mile kids dash goes to the Justin David Langford Memorial Fund for a scholarship at Vanderbilt University and Zionsville Community High School. Justin, a 2009 ZCHS graduate, graduated from Vanderbilt in 2013. His younger brother, Kyle, is a recent Vanderbilt graduate who is headed to medical school in the fall. Kelsi Buckley, who was Justin’s girlfriend, will travel from San Antonio to participate in the race.
The race will raise awareness about Donate Life America, which encourages organ donation.
Prior to last year’s run, the Langfords met Justin’s heart recipient, Fernando Zazueta.
“Since then, we have met his kidney/pancreas recipient, and the 4-year-old who received his other kidney,” Bryan said.
Michael Valdez, 37, has been a diabetic his entire life, had complete renal failure and lost vision in an eye. He received Justin’s pancreas.
“As his wife said, she was just watching him die day by day,” Bryan said. “He’s no longer diabetic. He’s gainfully employed. Michael frequently says, ‘Thank You, Justin’ to himself.”
Bryan was on business in Montana and met kidney recipient Alex Taylor, 4, and his family, who live in Idaho.
“He’s just so full of life,” Bryan said. “He’s funny and energetic.”
Bryan said Alex showed him scars and knows that he got his kidney from Justin.
“Just to see that freshness of life and that hope and vibrancy,” Bryan said. “It helps to encourage us and helps us to encourage others that organ donation is really a gift of life. It makes the difference.”
Justin was the first in the family to commit to being an organ donor.
“We also meet with people who have lost children,” Bryan said. “It’s a club that no one wants to belong to. It’s hard. It’s painful, every day. I don’t like to say Justin died. I believe through our faith he’s living eternally, and we’ll join him. On earth, we have this time of separation. We’ll just count the days until we’re together again.”
For more, justinsrun4hope.com.