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In kidney donation, her giving spirit lives

At the funeral, everyone wore little green ribbons. Green was Tiffany Evans' favorite color.

"I made 160 of them, and every one of them was gone," said Evans' close friend, Brittany Castro.

"She taught me never to hold grudges, to be there for people. She did not make one person feel uncomfortable."

The 19-year-old's giving spirit also helped others even after her 2002 Nissan Sentra collided with a school bus on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. The 2005 Wesley Chapel High graduate was an organ donor, and today one of her kidneys filters the blood of an old friend's father, Buddy Branch.

"It's very sentimental because they were best friends," Castro said.

After six years on the donor waiting list, Branch had been taken off because of his rare blood type. But family members say Evans' kidney proved a perfect match.

Branch was released from the hospital Thursday in "absolutely wonderful" condition, said Evans' brother, Kevin, 17.

His sister "was a very giving person," he said. "She always tried to help somebody in some way."

No one on the school bus was hurt that foggy Sept. 8 morning when Evans' car crossed the center line. She had to be taken by ground to University Community Hospital; the fog was too hazardous for an airlift.

She died six days later.

Those who knew her from high school and from her job serving and managing at Cap's Tiki Hut seafood restaurant recalled a vivacious woman who loved dancing and country music. In high school, she was part of a tight-knit group that dubbed itself BFF: Best Friends Forever.

Castro, who was part of that group, recalled how the friends were so busy they exchanged Christmas gifts three months late.

"We were all embarrassed," she said.

Joe Geier, who was Evans' journalism teacher, said she was active on the staff of PawPrints, the student newspaper. He recalled her as a hard worker with a lot of potential who spent four years on the paper.

Evans was studying journalism at Hillsborough Community College, Geier said. She also expressed interest in broadcasting and had spoken on Q105, where she delivered food. When the disc jockey learned of her death, he aired a special tribute.

The folks at Cap's Tiki Hut also were so touched by their co-worker that they are having a benefit Saturday to help her family cover medical and funeral bills.

Times staff writer Mary Spicuzza contributed to this report.

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