2010 Transplant Games: Celebrating the Gift of Organ Donation
MADISON - On July 30, more than 7,500 people will converge on Madison for the 2010 National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games. UW Health is a sponsor of the Games, which bring recipients from across the nation together to celebrate their successful transplants, honor their donors and highlight the beautiful gift of organ donation.
This event would not be possible, however, without the hard work of local volunteers and hospital staff. In particular, UW Hospital and Clinics' staff has stepped up to make this year's event truly special.
"As one of the co-chairs of the Games local organizing committee, assisting with the Games is a natural part of my role," said Organ Procurement outreach coordinator Trey Schwab. "But throw in the fact that I received a double-lung transplant six and one-half years ago and this becomes not only a professional event, but also a personal one."
|Transplant recipient Ben Ziehr is training hard for a busy Transplant Games.|
The Games will include competitions in everything from basketball and volleyball to bowling and ballroom dancing. Attendees will also experience team tailgate parties, family picnics and opening and closing ceremonies, all working to honor both those who have donated, and those who have received, the gift of life.
"As a nurse and transplant coordinator, I myself have seen so many lives changed by transplant," said co-chair of the volunteer committee for the Transplant Games and clinical transplant coordinator Crystal Peterson. "The Games exude the overall good health of transplant recipients and their ability to live an active and normal lifestyle. The patients are able to share experiences and create memories, feeling a sense of belonging to a unique and connected family. The compassion and support for all involved is a heartfelt reminder that we were all brought together by the gift of life."
Team UW Health hopes to foster those connections made at the Games by offering several special opportunities for attendees, including a community run/walk with many Team UW Health members participating, a reception for UW Health transplant recipients, Dottie Donor Dot appearances and a Kids Day activity, sponsored by American Family Children's Hospital, that includes a trip to Build-a-Bear.
"I feel being in the presence of recipients who are so grateful to be alive and for the gift, as well as to be among other donor families who can relate to their loss, will help donor families in the healing process," said UW Health family service coordinator and chair of the donor programs committee Christine Monahan.
Monahan also added that the Games would not be possible without the leadership and overall talent of those coordinating the events.
"The organizational talents and skills are phenomenal and their demand for excellence from all of those involved in co-chairing committees for the 2010 Transplant Games is what sets the bar for an excellent show. I have enjoyed working with them," she said. "This is an experience I will always cherish."
Beth Pinkerton, a member of the special events committee, echoed Monahan's feeling that the Games is truly a moving and life-changing experience.
"Since I first got my driver's license, I've indicated my interest in being an organ donor. But it wasn't until I became a part of planning the Transplant Games that I truly understood what my commitment to organ donation meant to another human being," said Pinkerton. "I can only imagine how it feels to gather with thousands who have received - or given - the gift of life, and I hope that having the games in Wisconsin will inspire everyone to register online as a donor."
Kathy Schultz, co-chair of the marketing and public relations committee for the Games and senior marketing consultant at UW Hospital and Clinics, loves working with the Transplant Games. It gives her a chance to chat with the athletes and donor families and learn more about their experience, and even after 20 years in the field, Schultz feels that the Games are one of the most inspiring experiences in which she's participated.
"These people are so courageous and grateful that they inspire me to work harder and do more to promote the mission," she said. "This experience has renewed my sense of purpose in more ways that I can count. I hope everyone takes some time to enjoy the Transplant Games, even if only for a few hours. Seeing someone win a medal or break a record or maybe even just finish a race they never thought they would be alive to enter is going to change your life forever."
Date Published: 07/16/2010