Skier is "Dottie" About Donation Education

Team Destination Donation in their new ski suitsSarah Petelinsek, age 15, shares this story describing her work to improve organ donation awareness.


Alpine ski racing is my love and passion. With more than 400 athletes and all of the parents who come to watch them, I thought that alpine ski racing would be the perfect way to get the word out about organ donation.


Last fall my father, (the co-founder of Destination Donation) and I were at a local ski team event where people can purchase and sell their new or used ski equipment. Naturally, being a 15 year old girl working off daddy's checkbook, I began to run through the list of items that I would need for the upcoming season. Among other things, I wanted a new race suit. In an effort to avert having to purchase a traditional new suit, dad said, "Why not just design one for Destination Donation?" Little did he know that this would eventually spiral into not only suits, but an entirely new branch of Destination Donation.


A few days after being introduced to the idea, I went to the company that provides Destination Donation with all of their clothing, and was pleasantly surprised to find they also created custom ski racing suits. After glancing over the pre-designed suits, I got to work on something for Destination Donation. I thought about the race suits that I've seen over the past 10 years and realized that they all had something in common. They looked fast.


I knew that the suits had to be orange and blue, the classic colors of Destination Donation, and I began to think about all the things that organ donation represents. I thought about the highs and lows that the families of the donors feel. I thought about the orange dot on the licenses of donors and the pride that people feel telling someone that they are a donor. Finally, I thought about the joy the organ recipient must feel knowing that some generous person saved their life. All these aspects came together to form the Destination Donation ski racing suit.


Currently our team includes seven of some of the most elite ski racers in southern Wisconsin. We wore our suits the first time in December at the JT Hilligoss Memorial Ski Race at Devil's Head. JT was a high school ski racer who passed away suddenly last year due to complications with his heart. JT was an organ donor. JT's father is the recipient of a donated lung. Dottie was also at the race to greet the racers. It was the perfect time to introduce our new ski uniforms. Overall, the suits have gotten a lot of attention at the races, and they continue to help us spread the message of organ donation.