Race Your Weekend Away on June 23rd & 24th

June 14, 2012

Are you looking for something to do next weekend? If so, we have two amazing opportunities for you to stretch your legs, enjoy the sun and build organ/tissue donation awareness.

10th Annual Nick’s Race
Saturday, June 23rd

Join the Volk family for the 10th Annual Nick’s Race on Saturday, June 23rd at Sam Parr State Park in Newton, Illinois.  Runners can choose from two different routes.  The first is 2.85 mile trail run and the second is a shorter 2.0 mile walk.

Nick’s Race benefits the NCHS Cross Country Team and the Nick Volk Scholarship Fund. All proceeds from the raffle will go to Gift of Hope.

You can register for Nick’s Race on-line or learn more about the event on the Nick’s Race Facebook page!

National Kidney Foundation of Illinois’ Gift of Life Walk
Sunday, June 24th

Next Sunday, approximately 1,500 people will descend onto the Soldier Field Great Lawn to walk or run in the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois’ 13th Annual Gift of Life Walk, Run and Roll presented by Baxter International Inc.  This fun-filled day aims to raise awareness for kidney disease and will include live entertainment, kids’ activities, and healthy living tips in addition to the three-mile walk and new 5k run along Lake Michigan.

The Gift of Life Walk, Run and Roll is free for all who participate, but those who raise $75 or more will receive the official walk t-shirt.  Participants will include people with kidney disease and on dialysis, transplant recipients and donors, caregivers, healthcare professionals and those that support the fight against kidney disease.

Check-in for walkers and runners will begin at 9 a.m.  Anyone interested in attending can pre-register for the event and help to raise funds at www.firstgiving.com/nkfi.

Have fun and be sure to stretch!

– Josh, Gift of Hope


Illinois Donor Diary – Team Swanson

December 8, 2011

A few weeks ago, we asked Robyn Swanson to write a short blog post about her experiences with organ and tissue donation. Robyn has a unique perspective on organ donation. Her twin boys, Jake and Luke, were diagnosed with biliary atresia which caused both to need liver transplants.

The Swanson Family

Our twin boys, Luke and Jake, became the newest members of “Team Swanson” in October 2008. At birth, they were the picture of good health. But it soon became apparent that something wasn’t right when the slightly yellow, almost jaundiced appearance, associated with newborns lingered.

Just three months later, we received devastating news from the doctors at Children’s Memorial Hospital. Luke and Jake both had a rare disease called biliary atresia, a condition in which the liver’s bile ducts develop improperly. The doctors at Children’s Memorial were as shocked as my husband and me since they were unaware of a case of twins both being diagnosed with this condition.

The exact cause of biliary atresia is unknown, but experts believe that during the third trimester of pregnancy something causes the fetus’ liver to attack itself. The build-up of bile causes irreversible cirrhosis of the liver. The only cure for my boys would be liver transplants. Both were place on the national organ transplant waiting List in fall 2009. Our family’s wait for two healthy boys was under way.

Waiting for a new liver.

On August 11 of this year, after almost two years of waiting, we were blessed with a call from the transplant team at Children’s Memorial. They had amazing news—there was a match for Jake. He received his new liver on August 12 and has experienced an amazing recovery. He is a new kid, full of energy and life!

As a family, we now find ourselves in an unusual and uncomfortable place.  We are excited and relieved for Jake, but we still feel very anxious and concerned for Luke as he continues to wait for a transplant. We are hopeful for Luke and his future and anticipate the day he will be able to run, laugh and play like his brother Jake.

As a family, we often reflect back on our journey. One of the first thoughts we had when we saw Jake in recovery was that donor family was in the opposite situation that we were in. They were grieving while we were joyous for Jake and his future. My eyes fill with tears when thinking about them. They decided, in their darkest moment, to help Jake and others like him during their unspeakable tragedy. We are forever grateful to this anonymous family for their gift of life.

The Swanson boys on the way to the Bears game.

This September, our friends at Children’s Memorial and Donate Life Illinois asked Team Swanson to join them at the Bears versus Packers game at Soldier Field. Of course, we said “yes” and were excited to go.  The smiles on all of our boys’ faces that day were priceless as we walked on the field. It was an encouraging reminder of all of the wonderful memories that are yet to come—memories made possible by offering the amazing gift of life through organ and tissue donation.

The boys at Soldier Field.

Robyn Swanson

Register your decision to save lives by becoming an organ and tissue donor at DonateLifeIllinois.org!

Remembering Walter Payton

November 2, 2010

Yesterday marked the 11th anniversary of the death of a Chicago sports legend, Walter Payton. Payton is also a hero to the organ donation community because of the support and attention he brought to the cause. Due to a rare liver disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis, Payton was in need of a life-saving liver transplant. After announcing he was placed on the national transplant waiting list, there was a 25 percent increase in the number of registered donors in Illinois. At the time of his death, Payton was still waiting for a transplant.

Payton’s family continues to honor his legacy and highlight the need for registered organ/tissue donors through The Walter and Connie Payton Foundation. To mark the anniversary, Walter’s son Jarrett hosted an on-air tribute to his father on Chicagoland Sports Radio.

Remembering Sweetness – CBS Chicago


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Morgan and Da Bears

October 20, 2010

Morgan D’Organ has been traveling this great state  for the past few months and has met loads of Illinois residents who support organ donation. Traveling with the DLI team, he was very well taken care of.

This Sunday, Morgan will be at the Chicago Bears Ultimate Tailgating event at Soldier Field. As always, Morgan and his entourage will be registering organ donors and giving away DLI t-shirts, wristbands and more. The tailgating event is free and open to the public. Check out the Bears site for all the details.

View Bears cornerback Charles Tillman discuss why he supports donation.

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The Complete Circle

September 28, 2010

Two recent stories about donation have received national attention. Although unconnected situations, the stories tell the complete story of donation. Taylor’s family made the decision to donate while Anna received the heart transplant she needed to save her life. Together, the stories illustrate the beautiful circle of donation.

Many of you may have already heard about these stories as Taylor’s Gift appeared on Good Morning America and Anna’s story aired during last night’s Bears v. Packer’s game but please pass on to others.  Both are incredibly moving and, hopefully, encouraged many viewers and motivated them to register.

Taylor’s Gift

My Wish: Anna Schmidt’s Journey


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Scrimmage with Chicago Bears and Save Lives

June 11, 2010

Donate Life Illinois partner, Illinois Secretary of State, has joined forces with the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation to bring organ and tissue donation to the forefront of Charles Tillman’s 4th Annual Meijer Celebrity Gridiron Challenge. Vicki, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Illinois Secretary of State, shares the event details in today’s post.  It’s an event not to miss! -Joslyn

On Saturday, June 19, Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman will host the 4th Annual Celebrity Gridiron Challenge.

There will be lots of games and activities for the entire family including a performance by the Jesse White Tumbling Team.  Fans of all ages will enjoy watching on-field scrimmages with pro football players and will have a chance to meet members of the Chicago Bears.  A donor registration drive will be held in The Cornerstone Fan Zone where there will also be games and activities for children.

Secretary of State Jesse White will present Charles Tillman and his wife Jackie with a signed Proclamation issued by Governor Quinn declaring June 19th as The Tillman Family Organ/Tissue Donor Awareness Day.

The Tillmans became involved in raising awareness for organ/tissue donation after their daughter Tiana received a lifesaving heart transplant at just three months old.  Tiana was born with cardiomyopathy and needed a heart transplant in order to save her life.  She is now a healthy 3-year-old. Click here to learn more about Tiana’s story.

The festivities run from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Lake Zurich High School located at 320 Church Street in Lake Zurich.  Attendance is free. Click here for additional event details.

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Chicago Bears – Charles Tillman Organ Donation Commercial

November 5, 2009

Last month we mentioned that we had been working with Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman to create a commercial for Donate Life Illinois. We’re happy to unveil the commerical below!

This is one component of a larger campaign we’re doing to help share Charles’ support for the issue. Stay tuned!


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