Each year, April 7 is acknowledged as Green Shirt Day across Canada. It’s a day to draw attention to organ donation, inspired by the generosity of Logan Boulet and the Boulet family, father Toby, mother Bernadine, and sister Mariko, in the wake of the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy. This year marks the fifth for the tragedy and the subsequent Green Shirt initiative, and the gear has undergone a logo refresh thanks to the Boulets and a woman from Regina with a remarkable connection. Brandy Hehn is a two time organ transplant recipient whose life has become serendipitously entwined with the Green Shirt movement. Hehn lives and works in Regina as a brand manager with a background in design. She provided the refreshed design for this year’s Green Shirt Day apparel.
“I’ve been on the organ transplant list twice in my life,” explained 39-year-old Hehn. “I had my first organ transplant in 2009 and I received my kidney transplant in 2020, over a decade apart. When I was first on the list for a liver transplant, social media wasn’t really a thing, and there was never as much awareness about organ donation. It was the kind of thing that not a lot of people talked about unless you knew somebody that needed an organ, or your family was a donor by chance.”
The invitation by health administrators to sign up or place a registration sticker on a health card would just as often be met with indifference as support. It was support Hehn needed when it came time for her to reenter the transplant listing, this time for a kidney.
“I’d been on dialysis for around four and a half years. I was about halfway through that journey when the Broncos crash happened.” Hehn was devastated and touched as were all who learned of the tragedy. “In the following days came the news that Logan had donated his organs.”
That act generated the Logan Boulet effect, a wave of outreach, awareness, and most importantly, donations of organs that undoubtedly had a ripple effect on Hehn’s life and the lives of others waiting for the life-giving news of finding an organ match.
“Having experienced organ failure over a period of 22 years, it’s the only time I’ve seen people talk about it or have any awareness on the subject. It’s hard to explain being on dialysis and waiting for an organ, but It was like this wave of hope. We felt seen - we felt like someone was talking about our cause, and that this little light was shone in a dark corner.”
Hehn relays the tale of a friend who was on dialysis for over 20 years, waiting for a donor kidney. She firmly believes that it was the cascade of the Logan Boulet Effect that allowed for the transplant match. As always, Hehn says, the joy of her salvation is always juxtaposed with the loss she and others have felt at the heart of the bus crash.
Hehn had been working in Regina’s REAL District, home of the Regina Pats. She set up a memorial table in the centre, honouring those involved in the crash. A video evolved from Hehn’s display which made its way to the Boulet’s and Green Shirt Day. That sparked a connection, and when Brandy resolved to share her story as part of the Logan Boulet Effect, a bond was created.
“Toby said I hope we get to meet one day,” Hehn recalls. It was at the Legislative Building press conference in Regina nearly a year ago that the wish was granted. Hehn met the family and was able to better share her experience and learn more about Logan.
One of the things Hehn learned through her conversations with the family was Logan’s childhood affection for a Sidney Crosby shirt, (AKA his “Sidney Cowsby” shirt) with a stylized Pittsburgh Penguins logo. That image became the inspiration for a revamped logo to adorn this year’s Green Shirt day merchandise. The 29 stars embedded in the design honour those lost or affected by riding on the bus that day five years ago. Toby learned of Brandy’s design background and skill sets and helped to set up a collaboration with David Peckham and the Green Shirt Day team to produce a renewed logo that would attract repeat purchasers.
“I took on the project that I kind of wanted to surprise the Boulets with,” Hehn says. “That’s how the shirt came to be. It was never an ask of me - it was something that happened when I had this ‘Aha’ moment as a way to give back with the extra time I have from not spending five and a half hours a day in the hospital.”
Green Shirt Day will once again be marked on April 7. Details and links to purchase the gear are at greenshirtday.ca and check out #LoganBouletEffect.
Enjoy the full conversation below.