Making a Run for Organ Donation

I came across this story yesterday about 12 Moms from Racine, WI that are bonding together to tackle a 199-mile marathon relay challenge out in California to support organ/tissue donation during April. The group is aiming to raise $5,000 by Feb. 15 for Organs R’ Us, a nonprofit organization that promotes donation.

I’m always impressed by groups that bond together for these types of physical challenges in support of the issue. Team Donate Life and my buddy Steve Ferkau’s Kari’s Klimbers (who I’ll be posting on later as the Hustle Up the Hancock approaches) are two groups that come to mind that put forth incredible effort to spread the word. Thank you to everyone who devotes time and energy to saving lives.


Link to full story here.

On the run for organ donation
Group of 12 Racine women to run 199-mile relay in California in April to raise funds, awareness

By Marci Laehr TenutaJournal Times
Sunday, February 3, 2008 10:59 PM CST

RACINE — They are 12 pretty ordinary women. They’re all in their 30s. Most of them work. They are all busy wives and mothers.And in three months, they will set out together to do something pretty extraordinary.This group of Racine moms is going to run a 199-mile marathon in California called The Relay, the largest event in the world promoting organ donation.

Jennifer Anntoneu, Valerie Bote, Maritza Byron, Jeannie Hoffman, Susan Holum, Cindy Kamm, Suzanne Palmen, Beth Polzin, Chantil Ruud, Amy Schaal, Kristin Siudak and Patty Wagner call themselves the Organ-ized Belles.

Members of the Organ-ized Belles train Jan. 25 at The Prairie School.

The 12-woman team is training and collecting donations for a 199-mile marathon in California in April to benefit and promote organ donation. Photo by Gregory Shaver, Journal Times While a few of them are regular runners, their participation is more about the cause and pushing themselves and each other to do something incredible.

Only five out of the 12 women have ever run a marathon before, and The Relay is by far the longest marathon most of them have attempted.“We’re all so proud of what we’re doing,” Schaal said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

The Relay will be held April 19-20, and will take the Racine team through 36 California cities and across the Golden Gate Bride in less than 30 hours.The marathon begins in Napa Valley and ends in Santa Cruz.

There are 36 legs to The Relay, which means each of the Racine women will take three legs of the race. At the end of each leg, one team member will pass the baton to another.

The passing of the baton is to symbolize the transfer of an organ from donor to recipient.The group will be running in honor of their friend Heidi Fannin’s brother Tommy Lehner, who died tragically and unexpectedly at the age of 31.

Because Lehner was an organ donor, he helped save the lives of others. His mother, herself now battling cancer, had the opportunity to meet one of the recipients of her son’s organs. And when she gave this man a hug, Fannin said, her mother said she felt Tommy’s heart beating inside his chest and was proud that the heart keeping this man alive was donated by her son.

The team hopes that hearing Lehner’s story will encourage more people to choose organ donation. It is also what encouraged them to take on the 199-mile challenge.

“It serves as inspiration for us,” Schaal said.

Although they have been training hard, the terrain in the marathon will be quite different from what they are used to, as much of it will be hills and mountains.

“That will be a challenge,” Schaal said.And while the slippery snow and bitter cold have made it more difficult to run outside, the team has been inventive and kept training.

Since they are all moms, they sometimes take each other’s children to allow others to run, or gather at team members’ homes who have treadmills.

Schaal said they are each other’s biggest cheerleaders, and have no doubt they will be able to complete the marathon as a team come April.She estimates it will take them between 28 and 30 hours to complete The Relay.

“We’re not expecting to win the thing,” she said.

What they are hoping to do is raise enough money for the marathon to make a difference.

The team’s goal is to raise $5,000 by Feb. 15, and would appreciate any donation. The funds benefit Organs ‘R Us, a nonprofit organization that promotes organ donation.

Anyone interested in learning more about The Relay or to make a donation maye-mail the local team at:

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