A Striking Start To The Green Up Games
Posted April 8, 2018 in News Category
Landon Gardner walked to the mound for the ceremonial first pitch at US Baseball Park and took a quick look in to Drury University baseball team catcher Collin Garner. Landon fired the ball to Collin. And with that pitch, Mid-America Transplant’s first Green Up Game was underway.
Landon received a heart transplant in 2017. A year earlier, as he waited for a lifesaving gift at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, leaving the medical complex — let alone going to a baseball game and walking to the mound to throw a ball – wasn’t possible. He spent six months in the hospital, followed by a pair of multi-week stays.
After a pre-game ceremony recognizing organ and tissue donors, Landon visited with fans at the game to share his story. “It’s a great way and exciting for me to get my story out there and encourage others to sign up to be organ donors,” Landon said. “It’s something that can save a life and change a life.”
Mid-America Transplant sponsored the Green Up Game with Drury University’s baseball team to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation. Drury baseball coach Scott Nasby was eager to form the partnership. “We’re trying to teach our guys that life is bigger than baseball,” Scott said. “So we try to do things like this and involve ourselves in the community. We want to make sure they understand that one of the biggest things of being a Drury Panther is to help those surrounding you.”
With more than 115,000 people nationwide waiting for a lifesaving transplant, the Drury Panthers message to fans was that we can all make a difference in the lives of others. The team traded in their signature black and red cap for a blue-and-green, Donate Life-themed hat for the game. Throughout the game, previously recorded video messages from the players encouraged fans to join the organ and tissue donor registry.
For Landon, the baseball field is like home. An outfielder and relief pitcher in high school, he calls baseball his first love. Landon was born with a congenital heart defect, but heart failure in 2016 required a heart transplant. After testing for his transplant was completed, doctors told Landon that he had developed several antibodies. He had a two percent chance of finding a compatible heart. Landon was at the game Sunday because a heroic, selfless donor said yes to donation.
Landon’s hero has also allowed him to ride horses again, a passion that was limited after he received a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) while waiting for a transplant. This summer he looks forward to attending Cardinals games – both in St. Louis and Springfield.
On this spring day, he was thrilled to be on the mound at US Baseball Park. “It’s really incredible,” Landon said of his transplant.