AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Rachel Merrick traveled all the way from Milwaukee to reunite with the family who changed her life.
"Molly gave me the gift of the tissue but she's also brought us together,” Merrick said.
In 2015, Molly Hammac was killed in a car accident and as a registered donor, she helped 31 other people.
"I never possibly thought it would be that many people,” said Molly’s father Tracy Hammac, who says Molly knew early on she wanted to donate.
Little did she know, her tissue would be what Merrick needed to get knee surgery.
"It gave me back one of the biggest parts in my life which was cheer,” Merrick said, “cause there were a couple of months where it was a struggle and I would come home from practice in tears just from the pain."
Merrick was able to follow her dream of cheering in college.
She sent a letter to the Hammac family thanking them for their daughter's donation.
"It was just signed with her name Rachel which is also my daughter's middle name,” Tracy Hammac said. “Some things can't be explained but I took that as a sign from my daughter that she is doing okay."
Tracy Hammac wrote back, warning Merrick that his daughter's love of country music and Lone Star beer may have been transplanted too.
"Something along the lines of oh if you spontaneously burst out in dance and I thought oh that's something we have in common,” Merrick said.
Letters turned into phone calls which soon turned into family dinners.
Hammac and Merrick told their stories to a room full of donors brought together by United Tissue Resources.
Slowly but surely they became living proof Molly lives on.
"I like to say that Molly has helped me to touch the lives of all the girls that I've coached so Molly doesn't end with me but all of those girls too,” Merrick said.
The nonprofit read donors’ names one by one, recognizing the courageous acts of the families loved ones.
"Please donate,” said Tracy Hammac. “Please be an organ donor because even in the darkest part of your life, doing that act you'll find will be healing."
Those looking to be tissue donors can register at donatelifetexas.org.