The John Garcia Legacy
The disease seemed to come from out of nowhere. One day, John Garcia was celebrating graduation with the rest of his fellow seniors from the Del Oro High School Class of 2000. Nine days later, looking forward to a bright future, he fell ill. Several hours later, he passed away. Doctors later determined the cause of John’s death was bacterial meningitis.
John was one of several students in the Sacramento area who contracted bacterial meningitis that year and died. While relatively rare, bacterial meningitis often occurs in such “clusters,” and schools and other institutions where young people are gathered in close proximity for long periods of time.
Unfortunately, after John’s death, the Garcia family learned that a vaccine against the particular strain of bacterial meningitis that took his life was available at the time, but not widely recommended by physicians.
John’s father Jim Garcia changed all that by going to the state Legislature. One year after John’s death, the Legislature passed two laws, one encouraging public and state medical facilities to provide meningococcal vaccination to children, the other requiring state health services to provide more public information about the disease and immunization. There’s no question that the Garcia family’s effort has saved and continues to save lives.
Thus, the legacy of John Garcia was born, and would eventually evolve into the John Garcia Memorial Youth and Wildlife Foundation. Jim Garcia owns Garcia’s Hunting Preserve in Lincoln, California. John grew up hunting and fishing and loved the outdoors, a privilege not not readily available to many youth nowadays. When educator and family friend Randy Orzalli approached Jim Garcia with the idea of helping introduce underprivileged youth to the great outdoors, they established the Foundation in John’s honor.
Since then, the John Garcia Foundation has helped provide hundreds of students with outdoor experiences ranging from restoring wildlife habitat to learning how to fish. The Foundation has granted more than $20,000 in scholarships that encourage qualified students to pursue careers in wildlife management and related occupations.
While introducing youth to the outdoors is the John Garcia Foundation’s primary focus, we remain dedicated to informing the public about bacterial meningitis and vaccination against the disease. Please visit the websites below for more information about the disease and the ongoing efforts to combat it.
Meningitis Foundation of America
Centers for Disease Control