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For the Love of the Games
Story by Jason Sprawka


"Dedicated" simply describes Colleen Horan, who has been the Director of Transplant Athletics at the National Kidney Foundation for the past ten years.

As John Davis, the Chief Executive Officer of the NKF said, "Her dedication is an inspiration to all of us," puts Colleen Horan in to perspective. It takes a special

"Yes, and I'm fine because of this kid right here"
person to successfully run the Transplant Games, and she and her staff have performed beautifully.

At the 2000 Games Colleen oversaw 67 NKF employees. She says that the planning starts over two years in advance, and "It takes a team of focused, organized individuals to make the Games a success." The Games pose a logistical nightmare that involves endless organization. Some of her responsibilities include lodging, transportation, facilities, events, team managers, medical, opening/closing ceremonies, parties, signage, officials, sport managers, sponsorship, media, celebrities, etc.

It only takes a short time to see how much the Transplant Games mean to Colleen. You can see it in her tears during opening ceremonies, her talking to a family she has befriended over the

years, or a hug from an athlete. "You owe me a shirt," adds Kyle (Team Ohio) referencing their standing bet: one gold medal equals one NKF shirt. Colleen says, "It is great to challenge the athletes to improve upon their performances from year to year. It is really fascinating to see these athletes trying so hard to get better year after year."

As the games continue, the long hours mount. After a long day a concerned staff member asks, "Are you OK?"

Colleen looks up and replies, "Yes, and I'm fine because of this kid right here," as she points to a gleeful toddler running without a care in the world.

"The worst thing in the world, is when I found out that athletes aren't returning to the next Games," she says, "I take these games very personally." In a long meeting trying to deal with the endless weather delays, she was faced with the possibility of having to cancel events.

"We are not canceling this, I will stay here all night before I go out there and tell these people that this event is over." She later adds, "We will do everything in our power make sure that people go away happy."

The 2000 U.S. Transplant Games conclude Saturday, but preparations for 2002 begin Monday.


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