This week, I want to talk with you about something personal. I know many of you have seen the heartbreaking news that KKTV 11 News reporter Dustin Cuzick died at the age of 36 after battling a lifelong illness.
Dustin has been a staple at KKTV for a decade, working as a photographer, a reporter, an anchor, and most recently an investigative reporter, working side-by-side with me on our 11 Call for Action team.
I wanted to take this time to talk with you about a cause that Dustin was very passionate about: Donate Life. Dustin always wore his ‘Donate Life’ pin and I wanted to share why this organization was so important to him.
Many of you have been following Dustin’s medical journey over the years. For the last several years, Dustin has been on the transplant list for kidneys and a pancreas. He had kidney disease from Type 1 diabetes and was on dialysis for more than 12 hours a day. Several loved ones were tested as a possible match, but unfortunately, toward the end of his battle, Dustin was unable to receive organ donation from a living donor.
Dustin was one of nearly 2,000 people in Colorado waiting for a lifesaving transplant. Several viewers have reached out to me asking to learn more about becoming a donor, so I talked with Donate Life Colorado and Donor Alliance.
“Being a registered donor says that you want to give the gift of life when you pass on and it’s so needed,” said Brianna DiPilato, Community Relations Coordinator at Donor Alliance. “There are people here in Colorado, and nationwide, thousands that need organs and need tissue in order to stay alive.”
“The need far outweighs the supply and we’re trying to close that gap as much as we can,” said DiPilato. “Saying yes is the first step to being a hero and being able to give the gift of life to people that need lifesaving organ transplants like Dustin did.”
Next time you’re at the Department of Motor Vehicles, you may want to check the box to become a donor. To find information, go to www.DonateLifeColorado.org or call Donor Alliance at 303-329-4747.
“It’s a huge gift,” Dustin said in one of our recent stories about his health battle. “As far as checking that box on your license, it doesn’t require a lot of effort, and it will literally change the lives of countless people.”
I know many of you have bumped into Dustin over the years, or watched him on TV, and his family wants to hear your stories. If you have any special memories or kind words to share, please email Dustin@kktv.com. The messages are sent directly to Dustin’s family. You can send a letter to our station and we will pass it along. Our mailing address is KKTV 11 News, 520 E. Colorado Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903.
Despite Dustin’s health issues, he always had a smile on his face, was always cracking jokes, and made everyone feel like a close friend. We can all learn from his kindness by spreading joy and laughter, even on our darkest days. We will forever miss Dustin, and we know you will, too.