2011 Rose Parade Float
JJ’s Legacy is proud to Honor Thomas Vanderhorst
in the 2011 Rose Parade with a Floragraph.
Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor
Age 47 ~ Tehachapi, CA
Donated on 10/5/04
at Kern Medical Center
Joy from Thomas
It was appropriate that Thomas John Vanderhorst was born on Valentine’s Day. He had a large heart and gave continuously throughout his life. Thomas was a diesel mechanic by trade, and he found much pleasure in using his extremely gifted hands: Building homes, fixing heavy equipment, or making simple repairs for his family and others, even strangers.
Thomas was happiest when he was giving, teaching, helping and loving others. He loved his family (his wife Joyce, to whom he was married for 21 years; their son, Nic, who is now 17; and daughter, Tina, 15) with his whole heart and soul. They were the world to him.
As Joyce recalled, Thomas would reach out instinctively to help others even if it meant stopping in the middle of what he was doing. One day while he was preparing his yard in Bear Valley for the all season, a new next door neighbor drove up in a moving van. Thomas immediately walked over and started helping by unloading their possessions. That kindness defined Tom.
On October 5, 2004, Thomas, 47, died from complications following an aortic valve replacement. In keeping with his giving nature, he became a donor and gifted his organs, tissue and eyes.
“It’s unknown to us how many lives Thomas has touched and continues to impact by this incredible gift he gave,” said Joyce. “However, we do know the very grateful person who received the only kidney Tom was born with. On the day we lost our dear Thomas, someone else’s family member was saved. With the assistance of OneLegacy, we met Bill, the wonderful recipient of Tom’s kidney. Although he lives in Pennsylvania, we keep in contact and are able to share in the glory of Tom’s incredible gift.
“On August 23, 2010, Bill became the father of a beautiful baby boy. With great honor, he named his son Thomas. August 23rd was a very special day to Thomas and me, as both of our mothers were born on this very day.”