Team Illinois is Ready to Compete

July 30, 2010

After months of training, fund-raising and preparing for the journey, Team Illinois made it to Madison and is ready to collect medals. The National Kidney Foundation’s U.S. Transplant Games will officially kick off Saturday night with the opening ceremonies. According to our guest blogger and Team Illinois athlete Jen, the ceremonies are a moving experience “where you will truly see just how amazing the decision of donating life can be.” I’m sure the entire weekend will be nothing less than emotional as donor families, transplant recipients, living donors and their supporters and advocates gather to celebrate the life-saving gift of organ/tissue donation.

You can follow the Team and their experiences at the Games on Facebook.

Also, you can learn more about a few of the Team Illinois athletes from these recent articles:

Batavia Boy Heads to Games for Third Time

Sisters to compete at U.S. Transplant Games

A Second Chance at Life

Orland father and daughter prepare to dance at transplant games

Transplant Games – Video from WCIA News

Goooooo Team Illinois!

-Nick

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Journey to the U.S. Transplant Games – Chapter 3

July 13, 2010

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!!!

Jen

Making new friends at the 2008 Transplant Games

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Let the Countdown Begin!

July 7, 2010

22 days. 12 hours. 54 minutes…53 minutes…52 minutes. The start of the U.S. Transplant Games is upon us. Soon the more than 280 members of Team Illinois will travel to Madison, WI for the Olympic-style event that celebrates transplant recipients, living donors, donor families and supporters. Team IL has already received recognition for having the largest number of living donors out of all the participating teams. Kudos!

I haven’t attended before but from what I hear from past participants, the Games are inspiring, encouraging and incredible moving. Team IL athlete Jen is documenting her journey to the Games and will be sharing her experience in Madison here on the I am. Are you? blog.

You can also check out Steve Baum’s blog, another athlete sharing his journey to the Games.

The Northwest Herald recently profiled heart recipient and Team IL athlete Carissa Panek.

For all you need to know about Team IL and to follow the countdown clock, check out the Team’s website.

Best of luck to all participants! Go Team IL!

Photos from previous Games:

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Journey to the U.S. Transplant Games – Chapter 2

June 22, 2010

It’s hard to believe that the games are just 38 days away!!  This year, team Illinois will be traveling to Madison, WI, with the largest team ever, with more than 91 athletes competing to bring home the gold.  Athletic events that you can participate in include: the 5K road race, ballroom dancing, swimming, cycling, bowling, table tennis, racquetball, basketball, badminton, golf, tennis and volleyball.

Often, people that have overcome the challenge of having a transplant may be perceived as not being able to fully participate in activities they would have before their transplant; this is merely a myth.  Transplant recipients can go on to live long, healthy, active lives.  On September 15th of this year, I will be celebrating 12 years post transplant and I feel as though I’m stronger than ever!

This year, I will be competing in basketball and volleyball.  Currently, our basketball team has been practicing every two weeks with Coach Don Rowley, a two time cornea recipient who has received the gift of sight.  Don has many years of experience with coaching and we welcome him into our transplant family. Our volleyball team has also scheduled some practice time as well.

Athletic events are not the only activities that are present at the games.  The donor recognition ceremony is in honor of those that lost their lives but in the same sense, gave life to those that were in need of a transplant.  It gives us the opportunity to honor them as well as their families.   Other events include: the donor/living donor tribute, the games expo, the opening ceremony where the torch will be lit as a symbol that the games have begun as well as the closing ceremony where the Jerry Cound Outstanding Athlete awards, Team Cup and other recognition awards will be presented and flame of the Games cauldron will be extinguished.  You can also view the quilt pinning where donor family members are given the opportunity to share the meaning behind their quilt patch. You do not want to miss any of these events; each one very unique, yet all so very important to the topic of organ donor awareness.

Keep on training and working hard!!!!

~Jen

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Preparing for the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games

June 3, 2010

Rosie, Jen, Steph (L-R) Team Illinois Athletes

My name is Mary Schlereth and I am the manager for Team Illinois and their participation in the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games.  My involvement with the Games began in 2004 after my boyfriend became an organ donor.  The U.S. Transplant Games were my first big event as a donor family member and I encourage everyone to attend the Games at least once in their lifetime as they will leave you with unforgettable memories and many new friends.

In just under 50 days, more than 5,000 people from across the nation will come to Madison, Wisconsin for the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games.  The Games show the success of donation and transplantation, honor living and deceased donors and their families, and call attention to the need for more organ and tissue donors.  Recipient athletes will participate in events such as basketball, volleyball, bowling, tennis and swimming to ballroom dancing!  Workshops and donor recognition ceremonies are available for living donors and donor families to attend.

This year, Team Illinois is made up of over 280 recipients, living donors, and supporting friends and family members.  With Opening Ceremonies just around the corner, I’ve asked one of Team Illinois’ athletes to share her experience and preparation for the Games. Jen received a second chance at life after receiving a liver transplant and is one of the Team’s most energetic athletes who will be competing on the basketball and volleyball teams. I invite you to follow Jen as she shares her experience with the Transplant Games and gears up for Madison. Jen’s first post will be coming soon.

Go Team IL!

Mary

Team IL Manager

Photos of Team Illinois from past events:

Team Illinois members and the Donor Quilt

Team Illinois bikers

Team Illinois members

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Team Illinois Info Meetings

July 15, 2009

Team Illinois

Team Illinois is continuing to gear up for the U.S. Transplant Games in 2010! The best part? It’s not too late to get involved!

Team manager, Mary Schlereth, passed along the information below about some key upcoming informational meetings.

Anyone who has any interest in attending the 2010 Games should plan to attend one of the meetings.  Information regarding registration, opening/closing ceremonies, athletic events and hotel information will be shared.  There are a lot of details and deadlines to be met so it’s imperative that anybody interested in participating in the Games attend one INFO SHARE so they are fully informed.

Please note that the Transplant Games are open to Illinois residents who are lifesaving organ transplants or allogeneic bone marrow/stem cell, living donors and deceased donor family members. Family members and transplant professionals are welcome to attend the Games too, so please feel free to come to one of the meetings below (and Madison)!

The Games will take place July 30 – August 4, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin.

If interested, please RSVP your chosen date and location to Mary at teamilmgr@aol.com.

INFO SHARE SCHEDULE

Sunday, September 13: Champaign

Time and location TBD

Saturday, September 19: Rockford

Rockford Library- Main Branch

215 N. Wyman St

Rockford, IL

1-3pm

Tuesday, September 22: Chicago

Illinois Eye-Bank

547 W. Jackson

Chicago, IL 60661

(Across the street from Union Station, 1 Block North of the Clinton Blue Line Stop)

6-8pm

** An RSVP is absolutely necessary for this location***

Sunday, October 4: Batavia

Batavia Public Library

10 S. Batavia Ave

Batavia, IL 60510

2-4pm

Monday, October 5: Morton

6pm

Go Illinois!

-Scott

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2010 U.S. Transplant Games – 594 Days and Counting

December 15, 2008

mary2Mary Schlereth is one of our contributing bloggers here at “I am. Are you?” She’s also an incredibly busy, busy person. Currently the Community Engagement Coordinator at Illinois Eye-Bank, Mary has also helped spearhead Donate Life Illinois’ high school organ/tissue donor education program.

On top of it all, Mary now serves as the co-manager for Team Illinois 2010, the state’s U.S. Transplant Games team. We wanted to check in with Mary as she gets ready to enter a busy year and a half of planning and prepping for what will undoubtedly be another excellent Transplant Games.

We plan to check in with Mary from time to time as we countdown to the 2010 Games!

-Scott

_________________________

594 days away.
50 states.
5,000 people.
1 place.
5 days…

1 reason.

The U.S. Transplant Games 2010 are 594 days away!  More than 5,000 people from across the nation will come together in Madison, Wisconsin July 30-August 4th, 2010 to celebrate and honor the gift of life!

If you’ve never been to the Transplant Games, you need to go!  Whether it’s to see the opening ceremonies, check out the National Donor Quilt or to watch transplant recipients swim or bike their way to the finish line, it is truly an event you won’t soon forget.  For those of you who live in IL, it will be an easy drive up and I hear Madison is beautiful.

Team Illinois is gearing up for the Games. I keep telling everyone that once the New Year starts, we are going hit the ground running!  We’ve taken some time off to relax and recuperate from the 2008 Games in Pittsburg, but once January 1 hits, we’ll be ready to go!  We’ll start having fundraising events as well as team socials around the state.

I’ll keep you updated on this blog, but also check out the new Team Illinois website.  Our WebMaster, David, who is a kidney/pancreas recipient, did a fabulous job! Something new to Team Illinois for the upcoming Games is our social networking presence on NING (it’s a private network but just drop a comment here if you’re planning to be part of Team Illinois 2010)!

This NING-thing is new to me.  I’m still one of those 20-somethings (at least for a few more months) who doesn’t have a MySpace or Facebook page.  I know, I know.  I’m trying to catch up!  But it’s really great to see Team Members already communicating and getting ready for the Games.

Also, if you’re from another state, you’ve got a team.  Check out the National Kidney Foundation’s official 2010 Transplant Games site.

I’ll be sure to drop another update in early ’09!

~ Mary
Team IL Co-Manager

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