Let the countdown begin…just 17 days until the Games! It is hard to believe that they are almost here. For those of you that are attending the games for the first time, be ready for an incredible experience, one that you will never forget!
The opening ceremonies is where you will truly see just how amazing the decision of donating life can be. While you are walking in with your team, take a look around in the room. It will be filled with other recipients, donor families and friends from all over the US! As the week progresses, you will develop relationships and friendships with several people, which will continue even outside of the games. I met some of my closest friends, Rosie Rodriguez and Stephanie Wetzel, by traveling with team Illinois to the U.S. Games that were held in Pittsburgh, PA in 2008.
Not only have I met great people through my own team from Illinois, but I have also met some wonderful people from all over the United States. Being originally from Michigan, I have become close with several people from Team MI, including Holly Werlein and the Coleman brothers, Trev, Lon and Brandon, a donor family that travels around the U.S. promoting organ donation through competing in triathlons in honor of their brother Chase, who passed away in a car accident, but was an organ donor. I have met so many others that have become a significant part of my life because we share in some similar experiences of receiving the precious gift of life. Not only have I met some incredible people that play an important role in my life, but I have also learned so much from them and their experiences. I think we would all agree on the fact that after you receive the gift of life, you learn that life is all about LIVING and being thankful for every single breath you are given. As someone once told me, living doesn’t necessarily mean breathing…it means LIVING!!
Not only are transplant recipients given the opportunity to compete in the U.S. Games, but they can also compete in the world transplant games. I had the pleasure of traveling to Australia last summer with team USA to compete. There, I also was able to meet so many incredible people from all over the world and even from my own team, team USA. I have kept in touch with several teammates and am looking forward to seeing them travel with their own state to the U.S. Games in Madison.
I encourage you to follow the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois on Facebook for updates and news regarding the upcoming games!!!
Keep on training and working hard!!!