Countdown to the Transplant Games
For the hundreds of people who have been planning for years, it’s difficult to believe that the 2010 National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games will be in Madison in just a few weeks.
The Games provide a wonderful opportunity for recipients, living donors and donor families to bond with each other and to celebrate the success of transplantation, and remind the entire nation of the beautiful gift of organ, tissue and eye donation.
More than 7,500 transplant recipients, living donors, donor families, transplant professionals and families and friends will be attending the Games, which are July 30 to August 4. Team Wisconsin, with more than 600 members, will boast the largest team in Games history.
Look for them to find success in many of the Olympic-style events, including swimming, basketball, 5k run/walk, tennis, track and field, volleyball, bowling, racquetball, golf, badminton, cycling and table tennis. For the first time, ballroom dancing will be an exhibition sport and several Team Wisconsin members will compete.
Along with the opening and closing ceremonies, workshops and special ceremonies will be held to honor living donors and donor families from around the country.
The public is invited to attend the Games, which will kick off with the 5K Run/Walk for Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation on Saturday, July 31, starting at the Capitol Square and winding along Lake Monona to the Alliant Energy Center. Dottie Donor Dot, and her friends Donorsaur, Heartman and Morgan D. Organ, will welcome people to the finish line. To register, visit YesIWillWisconsin.com and click on the RUN/WALK button.
Jan Jankowski has been attending the Games since 1992, but due to his second kidney-pancreas transplant, he missed the 2008 Games in Pittsburgh. He's watched the Games grow from only having a few donor families to having hundreds attend. Jan enjoys coming back to the Games to reunite with old friends and make new ones.
“It is always very rewarding to come back to the Transplant Games to meet new people, and hear the stories behind them.”
Jan’s favorite part about the Games is the opening ceremony. This year's opening ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m. July 31 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Alliant Energy Center.
"The atmosphere alone is something everyone should experience," Jankowski said. "It is an inspiring evening, and it is great to see all the athletes from all over the country.”
One recommendation Jan has for first timers are to go to as many events as possible.
"You will always hear stories where ever you go," he said. "It is a very, very special time to meet these folks. A lot of times throughout the Games, you won’t have a dry eye."