Published On: Thu, May 11th, 2017

Cedar County family shares memories of ‘Today’ show visit

LAUREL — Everyone has a story to tell.
Laurel’s Erwin family told their story recently on the NBC Today Show.
The segment started with the voice of Tiffany Plager reading a letter she had written to the Today Show.
The letter started out, “We are a simple farm family, we believe in hard work and trusting the Lord will provide what we need. However, our farm family is missing one thing, that is our farmer.”
The letter continued to tell the story of her mother, June Erwin, receiving a liver transplant in 2007 and her father later dieing and being able to donate his organs to save lives.
During the episode Kathie Lee Gifford asked Tiffany, “Why did you want to do this for your mom?”
Tiffany didn’t have to think long to respond.
“She has shown so much incredible strength through this. She has been a rock for our family since he (dad) passed.  She’s just amazing and so positive in as much as life’s trials has brought just to say trusting in the Lord and believing that God has a purpose,” she told Gifford.
Hoda said, “It’s your Faith that has sustained you, tell us a little about that.”
June replied with, “I am a believer and that is important now, really important to go through this, that is what you have and that’s how you get through anything like this. Your faith, your family and your friends.”
Tiffany and June were pleased to tell their organ donor stories.
Both Tiffany and June shared that their experience was fun and amazing from the beginning of their trip to the end as their last limo driver shut the door.
The family arrived in New York City on Wednesday, the day before the Today show.  They were given instructions to arrive at the studio only one hour before it aired.  They stepped into the studio and walked out of reality.  There were famous people, news anchors, not your everyday people that are seen in Laurel.
They waited in the green room after having their hair and make-up touched up.  They were to wait for two minutes before their segment. Then Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Boom!  They were on the air.
June and Tiffany both shared how kind and compassionate Kathie Lee and Hoda were and how they made them both feel comfortable.
“They didn’t tell us what questions they were going to ask,” Tiffany said.  “During commercial breaks, they asked about my children. After the segment, Hoda said, ‘Let’s get a selfie.’”
The final part of the show, Kathie Lee presented them with a song she wrote and was put to music by David Friedman.  It was titled “The Farmer.”
Many questions were asked in person or on social media since the episode aired.  First question asked was who was the lady standing with Blake and Heath Erwin behind you? June it was a cousin from California who was in New York at the same time with her husband at a conference. She asked to come and watch and ended up on the segment.
The second question: Are the brothers going to do a show called The Bachelor?  Kathie Lee joked about having a show called the bachelors.  Heath replied, “No comment.”  Blake jokingly replied, “If I meet my wife because of it, then I will go back on the show.”
After the show, the ladies were treated to an extravagant trip to La Prairie.  This pampering experience included a facial and massage with all the extras.
“The staff always addressed us by Mrs. Plager and Mrs. Erwin,” Tiffany said. “They definitely made it an experience all about us.”
The same evening, Tiffany and June were able to dine with Heath and Blake at a fancy restaurant that served them a seven-course meal provided by NBC.  At each course, there was more than one selection.  Five or six wines were offered, three appetizers, three pastas, and three entrees.  “We were taken care of very well,” said June.
Tiffany and June took in another Broadway show after their dinner.  They saw the Lion King the day before.  The next day, June reported she applied roller skates to keep up with Tiffany. “We went to Central park, The Met, took a ferry around the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Wall Street and New York Stock Exchange.” June jokingly reported that was all they got done.
“The trip was healing for us as a family,” June said “I missed Wyatt and wanted him to be there. We were very fortunate to have had the opportunity.  Tom would not have been surprised we did it, but he was a humble man and not about doing things like that.”
Tiffany and June said they plan to continue working to educate people about organ donation.
They reported the University Medical Center in Omaha had posted their segment on their website.  They hope to get involved in the organ donation walks, as well.
Today 98 percent of people are in favor of organ donation, but only 48 percent are signed up to donate, Tiffany said.  Today, there is no need to go to the DMV to sign up.  A person can simply sign up on line.
You can sign up on-line. June said, “It can happen and families need to be aware that they may be given that time to choose for a family,” she said.
Everyone becoming an organ donor is even more important to the Erwin family.  Not only has June had a transplant, her sister Jane Zechmann from Norfolk is currently on the waiting list for a lung transplant.
My sister and I are only 14 months apart.”  “In Laurel, there were three of us women that had liver transplants for different reasons.  We all went to the same church.”