person to successfully run the Transplant
Games, and she and her staff have performed beautifully.
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."
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,
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
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.