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A Conversation with Carl Lewis

Nine-time Olympic champion Carl Lewis, the most decorated athlete in the history of track and field, is a longtime supporter of organ donation and the U.S. Transplant Games. In 1990, he and his friend Wendy Marx, a liver transplant recipient, were honorary co-chairs of the Games in Indianapolis. And Lewis is now at the Games in Orlando. He is a co-founder and director of the Wendy Marx Foundation for Organ Donor Awareness.

TransWeb: How did you first get involved with the Transplant Games?

Lewis: Through my friendship with Wendy. It was just shortly after her transplant that someone from the National Kidney Foundation contacted us and told us about the Games. Of course, it was a great fit and I immediately wanted to be involved. Those first Games in Indianapolis -- that was one of the most incredible events I've ever attended. And that's why I've always wanted to stay involved.

TransWeb: What is it like for someone with your background in athletics to watch the competition here?

Lewis: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the incredible zest for life you see at an event like this. Notice I'm not saying zest for competition, but zest for life itself. These people definitely have it. And it's an unbelievable feeling to share that with so many people who truly appreciate life.

TransWeb: How does the competition here compare with the competition in those other Games -- the Olympics?

Lewis: A whole lot less complaining here...that's for sure! You know, with world-class athletes, we complain when we hurt. We complain about training, or the whether conditions, or whatever. You won't hear any complaining here. Everyone is just happy to be here, happy to be alive.

TransWeb: How about the level of competition here? What do you think?

Lewis:: It's been great. And actually that brings up the whole point of these Games. Transplantation does not just give you life. It gives you back a GREAT life. We need to keep getting that message out.

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