By Gary Jordan
There is a special woman who lives in Tennessee named Clare. In fact, it was said of her that she is a living gift – as you will soon find out.
Clare hasn't always lived in Tennessee. Actually that's a fairly recent move. She used to live in historic Forked River, New Jersey. That's in the southeastern part of the state, in Ocean County, on the shore. But, more about that in a minute.
Clare loves her animals – dogs, cats and horses – and, I think it is fair to say, she is known as someone who has more than a passing interest in “rescue.” You see Clare has been involved in Collie Rescue for more than 15 years. It all started with Prince, a 9-year-old with heartworm and Lyme Disease, back in 1992. In the years since there was also Laddy and Mike, as well as other breeds – a pomeranian named Honey and a schipperke named J.J.
But, as good as that story might otherwise be, this is not that kind of rescue story.
Last year she heard that her friend and fellow dog lover, Tony Barcellona of Belle Collies in Toms River, New Jersey, was going through tough times. He had recently learned from his doctor that his kidneys were failing as a result of some arthritis medicine he started taking when he was a police detective. Tony spent 30 years on the force in Woodbridge Township, chasing the “bad guys” and keeping the community safe.
Now he needed to be rescued.
Pictured: Tony with his CH Natural's Belle of the Ball, HC - TDI, placing in the Herding Group at Troy Kennel Club in October of 1995 (Photo by Ashbey).
Clare and Tony were friends from the days when she lived in Forked River. In those days, they, along with another dog show friend, Jay Wilkerson, spent part of their leisure time visiting nursing homes.
“We would visit three a week,” says Tony. “Clare also came with me to many dog shows. She was hooked on showing. We became great friends.”
And, when she heard that Tony needed a kidney, she immediately wanted to help.
On April 17, after numerous tests, both in Tennessee and New Jersey, Clare traveled back to New Jersey to rescue her friend.
The surgery at St. Barnabas Medical Center was a success. Clare left the hospital after only two days and Tony went home after four days.
“Clare proved to be as strong in surgery as in life,” says Tony. “The St. Barnabas staff called her an angel. To me she's a living gift.”
Now Tony is back home in Toms River, recovering and getting stronger so he can go out to dog shows again. Likewise, Clare Stevenson, a gift of life to her friend, has returned to Tennessee to her cats and dogs and horses and her husband Tom and her children and also looking forward to getting back to the shows.
Pictured: Organ donor Clare Stevenson and her friend, Tony Barcellona.