Transplant Games of America kickoff
Posted July 28, 2012 in News Category
The Transplant Games of America officially kicked off with the lighting of the cauldron Saturday night at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With more than 3000 people in attendance, more than 1000 athletes entered the arena as teams. Living donors, Quarter Century Club Members, and Donor Families followed.
Chairman of the event Bill Ryan introduced the new Transplant Games of America and many guests, including sisters from The Power of Two film (Anabel Stenzel and Isabel Stenzel Byrnes) and Jai’wan Davis-Harbour, a young kidney recipient from Michigan.
Bill Ryan introduced a new scholarship fund that will help families attend the Transplant Games of America when they otherwise could not. Musician Hunter Brooks played a special song before the Stenzel sisters – who encouraged recipients to “use these games to recommit to paying it forward and make our donor families proud” – read the athlete’s oath.
The lighting of the cauldron was a pyrotechnic display with fireworks running up a cable line to light the flame.
Celebrating Life One 5K at a Time
Ally Vasquez created with her family the Celebrate Life Foundation in 2009 as part of her grief journey shortly after her cousin, Dana Ezell, passed away. “I just wanted to keep the memory of my cousin alive and share her story,” Ally said Saturday shortly after the 5K run/walk at the Transplant Games of America. “It was me working through my own grief journey instead of focusing on the negative.”
The work of Ally and her family continues to help families. Dana’s family selflessly and generously decided to donate her organs in 2009 following a tragic car accident. Today, the Celebrate Life Foundation is supporting Team Transplant St. Louis with $6,000 raised from its third annual 5K run/walk.
The first year of the 5K was tough. With only 115 runners attending and many not showing up, the foundation lost money. “You can imagine the discouragement,” Ally said. “We wondered why we would even do it again, but there were a lot of planning things that we didn’t consider.”
Ally also wanted to continue sharing the story of Dana, who was more like a sister than cousin to Ally. Her opportunity started in the second year with 230 runners and a profitable 5K. In Year 3, more than 400 runners participated.
Zumba in the Park
A Zumba dance instructor inSt. Louis, Karla Boresi’s plan to host a Zumba class as part of the 2012 Transplant Games of America was a great success.
A two-time kidney recipient, Karla led an hour-long dance session with two Zumba instructors from theGrand Rapids,Michiganarea. More than 100 people followed Karla’s lead atRosa Parks Circlein the heart of Downtown Grand Rapids.
“I’m so excited to see so many people come out for this,” said Karla, who is also participating in cycling, volleyball and track and field. “This is exactly what I hoped for.”