UNC mascot's memory kept alive through organ donation 10 years later

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill mascot Jason Ray died after he was hit by a vehicle in New Jersey 10 years ago. (Photo courtesy Ray family)

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill mascot Jason Ray died after he was hit by a vehicle in New Jersey 10 years ago. (Photo courtesy Ray family)

Sunday marks 10 years since Jason Ray, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill mascot, died after he was hit by a vehicle in New Jersey.

"You've still got that big chunk in your stomach when you think about it," mother Charlotte Ray said.

Jason was in New Jersey to perform as the Tar Heels’ mascot, Rameses, in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. He was severely injured when hit by a car on a Friday night in late March 2007. He died three days later.

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Jason's parents, Charlotte and Emmitt Ray, sat down with Channel 9's DaShawn Brown and talked to her about their son's decision to become an organ donor years before his death.

His parents described Jason as a young man who loved life, loved Carolina and also loved people. His decision to become an organ donor later helped 118 people.
"We just honored his wish and I've never regretted it," Charlotte Ray said.

Ten years since his death, his legacy seems infinite. 
His family started the Jason Ray Foundation in his honor, which raises money for other transplant patients. The foundation holds a golf tournament every year to help raise money. The tournament will be held April 3 in Kannapolis this year.

UNC also renamed its transplant clinic in 2016 after Jason, whose death prompted more than 46,000 people to sign up to be donors too.

"That was our whole intent when we started this, making sure Jason wasn't forgotten," Emmitt Ray said.

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