Kristen Nicole Hintz was extraordinary. A senior at Ellicottville Central Schools, she was at the top of her class and a leader among her peers. Kristen was a multi-sport athlete, recognized for her accomplishments and strong spirit. When her life was cut short by an automobile accident in October 2000, the Hintz family knew that Kristen would want to give the Gift of Life to others.
Her legacy as an organ donor is in keeping with the caring, generous nature she showed in her 17 years.
"Kristen loved her family and friends," a family member recalled. "She was always the first to welcome someone new to the school and make them feel like they belonged."
Kristen was a loving daughter to Deborah and Kevin Hintz of Ellicottville, and close with her older sister Amanda. She was an active member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, where she taught Sunday school to younger students.
Schoolmates and teammates liked and respected Kristen. She was president of her class from seventh through 12th grade, and a member of National Honor Society and Student Council. She took part in the school band and chorus, and was also a class leader in terms of academic achievement.
Her athletic endeavors included track, basketball and soccer. The Ellicottville Eagles won state championships in 1998 and 1999, her sophomore and junior years. Kristen was named an MVP on the soccer team and received the Good Sportsmanship and Heart and Soul awards, as well as earning state honors.
A Buffalo News story published shortly after Kristen's death noted how much her teammates had been inspired by her leadership, enthusiasm and perseverance. Ellicottville Central retired her soccer and basketball jerseys. The "Heart of a Warrior" athletic award as well as a memorial scholarship for Ellicottville students have been created in her name.
Kristen had made her parents aware that she wanted to be a donor if anything happened to her. Her heart, liver and kidney donations saved the lives of people in different parts of the country. Kristen's family honors her memory by making others aware of the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation.