LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--OneLegacy, the largest organ procurement organization serving seven counties and a growing population of over 22 million people in Southern California, is proud to support and wish good luck to nearly 100 athletes and supporters who will participate in the 2018 Donate Life Transplant Games of America.
Taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah, the games are a celebration of goodwill for everyone connected to organ donation and transplantation. Donor families, living donors, transplant recipients and many others whose lives have been touched by organ donation will help celebrate the gift of life starting today through August 7.
More than just an athletic event, the games include the participation of over 40 teams from across the United States who will compete to win gold, silver and bronze medals for each sports category. The 96 athletes and participants from Team SoCal have worked with local organizations and community partners, like OneLegacy, to compete in different categories and raise funds for their uniforms and their trip to Salt Lake City.
“Team SoCal’s participants have either volunteered their time as OneLegacy Ambassadors or shared their stories with their local communities to help promote the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation within our service area,” said Tom Mone, CEO of OneLegacy. “We are proud to support this group of amazing individuals of all ages and connections to donation as they represent Southern California during this year’s Transplant Games.”
MEET TEAM SOCAL
From first-time participants to long-time Transplant Games veterans, the members of Team SoCal include transplant recipients, living donors, donor families and supporters. Participants range from age 9 to 81, and they compete in a wide range of events.
Debbie Morgan is Team SoCal’s president, former Transplant Games athlete, and team supporter. She became a donor advocate in 1999 and received a lifesaving liver transplant in 2008. She has been part of the Transplant Games of America since 2010 through her organization, United Organ Transplant Association.
“The Transplant Games are an amazing experience for the transplant community, and I am honored to help lead our team in Salt Lake City,” said Debbie. “The emotion we share as we trade stories is unforgettable. From watching a 10-year-old stop short of the finish line during his race so that a younger boy on a walker could take home the bronze medal, to experiencing the whole stadium cheering on a woman as she slowly finished her race in last place, the Transplant Games of America provide memorable experiences that go beyond competing.”
Here are some fun facts and team highlights from Team SoCal:
- The team’s youngest member is 9-year-old Santino Pepe who was born with kidney failure and who received a transplant at the age of 2. He will be accompanied by his mom, Yvette Pepe, who donated one of her kidneys to save Santino’s life.
- Team SoCal’s oldest participant is Phil Pressel, an 81-year-old transplant recipient who will participate in swimming competitions. This is the fourth time that Phil has attended the games.
- Another young member of Team SoCal is Xavier McLeod, a 14-year-old kidney recipient who has been part of the Transplant Games since 2014, receiving the Youth Athlete of the Year award in 2014 at the age of 10.
Additional team members include:
- Transplant Games veteran, Gerald Colter, a kidney transplant recipient and a Transplant Games participant since 1996.
- Holly Miyagawa, a kidney recipient who has been part of the games since 2005 and who was awarded the Outstanding Female Athlete Award.
- Lacey Wood, a 29-year-old heart and kidney recipient and OneLegacy employee who has been part of the Transplant Games since 1998.
GUINNESS WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT
To help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the games, OneLegacy is sponsoring a gathering of transplant recipients during the Transplant Games of America with the goal of breaking the Guinness World Record of the most transplant recipients gathered at one place. Team SoCal participant, OneLegacy’s public education manager and living kidney donor, Kathleen Hostert, as well as her husband and kidney recipient, Craig Hostert, will lead the efforts to help break this Guinness World Record attempt. Kathleen and Craig originally helped set the record in 2016 during the Donate Life Run/Walk in Southern California, when 314 transplant recipients participated in the challenge.
The 2018 Transplant Games of America will include the following sports categories: 5K Run/Walk, Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Cornhole, Cycling, Darts, Golf, Racquetball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Texas Hold ‘em Poker, Trivia Challenge, Virtual Triathlon, Volleyball, Ballroom Dancing, Pickle Ball, Youth Olympiad, Track and Field, and Lyrics for Life.
You can help save up to eight lives through organ donation and heal the lives of up to 75 people by registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor. Learn more at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org/OneLegacy.