It was Feb. 20, 2010.
Natalie Bolin — along with two friends and her younger sister — were returning home from the Wisconsin boys state high school championship swim meet in Madison, where they had cheered on teams from the Fox Valley.
The car hit black ice on the highway, crossed the median and crashed into oncoming traffic. Natalie died from her injuries. The other three girls survived.
Natalie’s death came one week before she would have turned 17 years old.
Despite her shock over the tragic accident, Natalieâ€™s mother Mary Jo Menzies consented to the donation of her daughter’s bone and connective tissues. “It was hard for me at the time,â€ Mary Jo remembers. â€œBut I knew that’s what Natalie would have wanted.”
Mary Jo describes Natalie as a giving, kind and happy young woman. “She reached out to people. She had a lot of friends from all walks of life.”
From the age of nine, Natalie was an avid swimmer, competing on both the Oshkosh West and YMCA teams. She swam at five national meets and planned to swim in college. She was also an enthusiastic volunteer at Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh, where Mary Jo worked as a nurse for more than two decades.
To keep Natalie’s memory alive, her family established two scholarships in her honor. One is the Natalie Kate Bolin Memorial Fund to send 20 Midwest youngsters to a week-long annual swim camp in Ely, Minn. The other scholarship is the Natalie Bolin Mercy Medical Center Volunteer Scholarship Award that gives $500 to student volunteers who donate the highest amount of hours at the center. The family funds the scholarships through an annual swim event at the Oshkosh YMCA, celebrating Natalie’s birthday.
Natalie’s generosity as a tissue donor is enhancing many people’s lives. Fifty-one tissues were created to increase the strength, mobility and independence of patients in need.