Runner Promotes Organ Donation at Races

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Casey Phelps, RN, promotes organ donation with every race she participates in.Casey Phelps, RN, has found a way to combine two of her biggest passions — organ donation and running. By wearing her Donate Life shirt when she runs races, she has become a walking advertisement for organ, tissue and eye donation.


Casey, an organ procurement coordinator for UW Organ and Tissue Donation (UW OTD), has a cousin in Nebraska who received a heart transplant three years ago. Her cousin, Annie, told Casey she wishes more people would work to raise awareness of organ donation. When Casey told her she and her friends would be interested, Annie sent them all Donate Life shirts.


The shirts have gone to good use. Casey and her friends have worn them for a number of races — including the Chicago Marathon and Madison Marathon — and when they work out at the gym. Putting on the shirt is a simple step, but they have found it catches others’ attention.


Last summer, Casey was at an after party for a half marathon in Madison when she met a fellow runner who asked about her shirt. The woman, it turned out, is a transplant coordinator at UW Hospital and Clinics.


"People definitely notice the shirt when I'm running," says Casey. "They yell out, 'I'm signed up.'" She likes to joke that she ran the Madison marathon plenty slow, "so everyone would have a chance to see my shirt."


"I always send Annie pictures from every race," continues Casey, "so she knows we are out there promoting organ donation for her. We are her billboards."


Would you like to be a walking billboard, too? Consider wearing Donate Life merchandise on a daily or weekly basis. You can find shirts, bags, hats and other items at the national Donate Life website.