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When Betty Ritz returned from London’s University Hospital after a very successful liver transplant at the age of 67, it would not be to a life of ease and relaxation. She showed a determination to live life to the fullest in giving back in appreciation for a new lease on life, thanks to an unknown donor, whose memory she treasures daily.
Her first efforts included helping her mother-in-law celebrate her 100th birthday within a week of returning home. The celebration was assisted by family members under Betty’s direction. As her strength and weight returned, she was engaged in visits to give encouragement to patients who faced transplant surgery. She also began a series of speaking engagements at various meetings on behalf of the organ donor program, which she has carried on over a dozen years.
She began to assist her church women’s group as their secretary. In addition she helped coordinate lunches at her church following funeral services. The work included recruiting help, organizing the purchase and preparation of food, and assisting in the actual serving.
As a Life Member and Past President of the local Women’s Institute branch, she has continued her duties in program arrangement and presentation at meetings of that organization.
At the local Seniors’ residence, Nithview Home, she spends a day each week assisting the Seniors’ Day Care program which provides interaction with seniors through games and a luncheon. Another day each week finds Betty at the Mennonite Central Committees’ Thrift Shop where she assists in the preparation for sale of donated items, mainly clothing and apparel.
These efforts have been recognized by the Municipality, which through its Culture and Heritage group awarded Betty the Citizen of the Year Award in 2002. Her many activities outside the home have not diminished her work in her own kitchen where she regularly prepares casseroles, pies, and other treats for the enjoyment of family, friends and neighbours.
As a member of the “Retreads” who walk in the Labatt 24-hour Relay annually, she has been an eager participant. She has received honours several times as the best individual fundraiser for her team. In 2004, her efforts provided $4,000.
Special to her is the love and support of her husband of 59 years, their two sons, their spouses and families which include two grandsons, two granddaughters and a two-year-old great grandson.