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STORY: Randy H. Milgrom
PHOTOGRAPHY: Bob Garypie, Matthew Quirk

Over and Out

With less fanfare than in years past, the 2004 National Transplant Games came to a close in front of a large audience in one of the four vast halls in the capacious Minneapolis Convention Center.

Jim Cunningham, the evening’s emcee, began the festivities with a warm welcome and congratulations to all of the Games game participants: “Seeing all of you rise to the challenge of competition and to share in each other’s joy and sorrows is an inspiration…. Together we are showing the world that transplantation really does work.”

Cunningham then introduced Leslie Morrison, Transplantation Specialist for Novartis who is also a kidney transplant recipient. Morrison provided some personal remarks and then presented the Mickey Mantle Courage Award – which recognizes the transplant athlete who has overcome great challenges to participate in the Transplant Games – to Kathy Miller. Among other things, Miller recently developed adult respiratory distress syndrome, which required her to undergo rehab to relearn basic life skills such as talking, eating, and walking.

Other awards (and their recipients and presenters) included:

  • The Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF) DonorCare Award, in recognition of excellence in care and support to donor families, was given to Life Alaska Donor Services (LADS)
  • The TransAction Council’s Making Lives Better Award – presented by Dr. Trent Tripple, a pediatrician in Ohio preparing for a career in neonatology who received a kidney transplant in 1995 – to Julie Schweitzer of the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii.
  • The Wendy Marx Award for Organ Donor Awareness to Lacey Wood of Team Northern California (in the under 18 category) and to Bob Swanson (in the adult category) – both of which were presented by Wendy’s brother, Jeff.
  • The Team Cup, awarded to Team Northern California for the most medals.
  • The 2004 Jerry Cownd Outstanding Male Athlete Award, presented by Olympian snowboarder Chris Klug to Team Philadelphia’s Padraic McCole.
  • The 2004 Jerry Crownd Outstanding Female Athlete Award, presented by Chris Klug to Team Oregon’s Melissa Salvador.

Former Olympic track star Carl Lewis also took to the podium and offered kind and moving words to the gathered throng. He also said he was tremendously impressed with the organization and logistics of the Transplant Games. “Athens can take a message from you – this is how you put on Games!”

At another point in the ceremony, Jim Cunningham asked for a moment of silence “in memory of the 17 people who die each day while waiting for a life-saving organ.” He calculated that in the course of a year that total comes to more than 6000 people, which is the approximate capacity of the room in which the closing ceremonies were being held.

The National Kidney Foundation’s Fred Brown and John Davis took turns thanking everyone once again – and especially all of the Games’ sponsors, including Novartis, Roche, HHS, Cargill, Coca-Cola, United Resources Networks, Evercare, National Council of Corvette Clubs, Wyeth, Fujisawa Healthcare, The Mayo Clinic, LifeSource, 3M, and Kare-11. They then began looking forward to next year’s World Games in London, Ontario, Canada – and with that, a highlight video prepared by Stu Katz of the National Kidney Foundation was presented on the four large screens throughout the hall, to the great delight of the crowd.

Following Father Naughton of Leeds, Alabama’s benediction, Fred Brown announced that it was time to extinguish the flame of the 2004 U.S. Transplant Games “until we meet again. We look forward to seeing you all in 2006!”

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Last updated on: Friday, 05-Feb-2010 15:05:42 UTC