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Jefferson Award winner uses her personal experience to save other's lives

Posted at 6:31 PM, Oct 03, 2023

PUEBLO — Once a month here at News5, we honor someone in our community with the News5 Jefferson Award. The award was created more than 50 years ago with the help of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It recognizes people who perform extraordinary acts of service across the nation.

This month's winner of the News5 Jefferson Award is Pauline Montoya of Pueblo. Pauline saved her brother's life and ended up saving her life, too. Just as she did that, she's now helping others to get real about getting healthy.

News5 Jefferson Award winner Pauline Montoya
News5 Jefferson Award winner Pauline Montoya

Finding time to go on a walk together has not been so easy for Marcos Flores and his sister, Pauline Montoya. Three days a week for the last three years he's been hooked up to a dialysis machine for four hours each time. He says high blood pressure and diabetes led to both of his kidneys failing.

Montoya wanted to help, but was not healthy enough herself to donate one of her kidneys.

"When we first found out, I was 243 pounds and you have to be healthy, you know, you have to have a good BMI in order to donate," said Montoya.

So, she started her journey to get healthy, losing 100 pounds, and this summer, she was able to give her brother the gift of life.

"You know, I feel like I'm 20 years younger and I just can't stop smiling," said Montoya.

Now, she spends part of her time coaching others about healthy eating and sharing her experiences donating a kidney on her Facebook page, Kidney4betterlife.

"I saw how he was suffering before," said Montoya. "I saw how he was tied to that machine three days a week for hours, and it was a miracle that he doesn't have to do that anymore."

Pauline Montoya and her brother, Marcos Flores
Pauline Montoya and her brother, Marcos Flores

Spreading good and multiplying good. That's why Pauline Montoya is the latest winner of the News5 Jefferson Award.

"There is hope, and it doesn't matter where you're coming from, it doesn't matter which age you are," said Montoya. "Like, you can live a healthier, better life, and then to have something like this where I can spread my experience and hopefully let others have their miracle, like I said, through telling my story."

Montoya encourages everyone to sign up to be an organ donor. It's pretty easy to do when you get a license.

To learn more about becoming a donor, visit the Donate Life Colorado's Website.
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