At 6 feet 3 inches tall and 200 pounds it seemed like nothing could stop him. He’d always been a good son, a peacemaker who looked out for other people. He loved sports and had played football, basketball and baseball. He thought he wanted to join the force, like his Dad, but also took some sociology courses. But in the end the lives Richard Bailey saved were not those of people in his neighborhood on Long Island. They were the faceless strangers praying for a life saving organ transplant, even as they knew their hope would spring from another person’s tragedy.
Rick’s best friend of eleven years Stephen Mazziotti remembers him as a “someone who always put a friend before himself, someone who always made things better, even the simplest things like watching a movie.” When his family and friends are asked if they knew Rick wanted to be a donor, they all answer an emphatic yes. “When we’d go out, or to a bar, Rick would keep his license out and show people- see I’m a donor” according to his best friend. It wouldn’t stop there; he’d urge his friends to join the registry. His mom Lisa remembers “I always said to him, why wouldn’t you (donate), why take them with you? Half the time I said stuff I didn’t realize he listened. My message to parents now is to remember that even if they don’t seem like it, they’re listening.”
Lisa and Jim Bailey take comfort in Rick’s donation. They know that he was a hero, who saved multiple lives through the donation of his organs. It is especially meaningful to them that his pancreas was able to save someone, after a family member died of pancreatic disease, that his heart valves were given to critically ill children and that his corneas gave the gift of sight when his sister is legally blind. His best friend also takes away the knowledge of what one person can do, and a belief that Rick’s legacy, his legacy of life, will go on.