Mirian Taddei, PhD, had a lovely smile and a kind word for every person she
met. She frequently mentioned what loves the most in life is her family --
son Max, daughter Amy and five beautiful grandchildren. In addition to the
treasured time she spent with her family, she was also an active member of
her local church, and she served on several community boards and
committees. Mirian was not the prototypical retiree.
Before her passing, Dr. Taddei served on the Board of Directors at Hunter Contracting. Her professional journey began in 1961 when Armando Taddei purchased Hunter Ditch Lining from his father-in-law. Eventually he and his young bride, Mirian Hunter Taddei, expanded the business to include a road construction company called Hunter Contracting. Over the years the company has grown to encompass all phases of highway work including mass grading, paving, road widening and interchanges, utility relocations, bridges and drainage structures, underground pipelines, curb and gutter, sidewalks, parks and sports fields.
In the early days, Mirian worked side-by-side with Armando proofreading his correspondence and assisting the growing firm in any manner that was necessary. This hands-on management approach also translated to Mirian's approach to charity. She frequently commented at COTA Board of Director meetings that her goal is to always put children first. Mirian's constant 'children-first' mantra has been a big reason why her fellow board members still strive to embrace this goal in their actions and decisions.
Hunter Contracting expanded into the industrial arena in 1989. The company now constructs water and wastewater treatment plants, reclamation plants, lift and pump stations, recharge facilities, underground and process pipelines. It also provides mine reclamation, plant maintenance and design-build services. Hunter has grown from a handful of people in 1961 to a thriving enterprise with hundreds of employees. Today, Hunter Contracting continues the legacy of values upon which the company was founded...an emphasis on excellence in construction and an unparalleled commitment to the communities it serves.
In 1993, the young son of a Hunter Contracting employee became very ill and fell into a coma. The child was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center where it was determined a virus had attacked his liver. A transplant would be his only chance for survival. It was at this point that Armando and Mirian realized the health insurance coverage they provided their staff was inadequate because it would not cover the child's medical expenses. Immediately the firm began working with a team of volunteers trained by COTA and initiated the first of nearly 20 annual golf outings, with the first outing's funds benefitting COTA and the community campaign in honor of young Ben Sornsin. After Ben's successful liver transplant, Hunter Contracting continued to host these golf outings. Through these annual events, Hunter Contracting has provided more than $250,000 in proceeds to COTA as well as several Arizona-based charities.
Some years following Ben's diagnosis and transplant, Armando Taddei was diagnosed with leukemia and sadly passed away from the disease in 1997. But as Mirian noted recently, Ben Sornsin's health crisis was the catalyst that caused the firm to improve its health coverage for all employees. "Had that difficult ordeal Ben's family faced not happened, the leukemia treatments my husband received would also not have been covered, and it could have bankrupted our company and negatively impacted the lives of several hundred people," Dr. Taddei said.
Today, her daughter and son continue to host the annual golf outing fundraiser. In each of the past 26 years, the funds generated have been donated to the Arizona Kids Fund, which is a funding mechanism for children requiring life-saving transplants who live within the state of Arizona. Mirian updated her estate plan when she began the process of transferring ownership of Hunter Contracting to her son and daughter. While doing so, she remembered one of her favorite charities -- the Children's Organ Transplant Association -- in her estate. This included a generous donation to further her long-time support of the Arizona Kids Fund.
"I am very grateful to be able to work with an organization that is actually helping save children's lives while helping transplant parents survive financially. COTA is achieving this goal on behalf of its families every day," she said. "The gift that COTA gives is empowerment. Nationwide, COTA community campaign volunteers are truly undertaking a life-saving effort. All of us working together -- volunteers, family members and Miracle Makers -- are saving lives, and we all are able to rejoice when we hear that a child's life was saved."
"COTA is truly giving hope by saving lives. It is so rewarding to know that I play a role in that process, as does my family."
Dr. Taddei was a long-time COTA Board Member. According to COTA's President and CEO Rick Lofgren, "Dr. Taddei infused our Board with fresh insight about our work to help transplant families and to raise awareness of the need for more organ and tissue donors. She was an extremely valued member of our Board. Thanks to her urging, every Board member now checks our financial statements to ensure that at least 85% of all COTA expenditures are directly benefitting kids."
With her words, insights and contributions, Dr. Mirian Taddei has truly left a lasting legacy for the Children's Organ Transplant Association.