LifeGift sends Vital Volunteers to Transplant Games of America
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LifeGift sends Vital Volunteers to the Transplant Games of America in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Houston, Texas (June 15, 2012) - LifeGift, the not-for-profit organ and tissue recovery agency headquartered in Houston, Texas, announced the winners of its first-ever contest to send volunteers to the Transplant Games of America.
The Transplant Games of America are a multi-sport festival event for athletes who have undergone lifesaving transplant surgery or those who are living donors. The games, which will take place July 28-31 in Mich., highlight the critical importance of organ and tissue donation, while celebrating the lives of organ donors and recipients.
LifeGift held an essay contest among its volunteers – recipients, donor families and those on the waiting list - to choose the ones to best represent the agency in the games. LifeGift’s Vital Volunteers Willie Thornton - heart recipient and Terri Contreras - donor mother were the contest winners. Thornton has chosen fellow Vital Volunteer, Sara Guzman, as his guest of honor for the trip. Guzman is a living donor herself. Contreras is taking her husband as her guest. Not only are they donor parents, he is currently waiting for a liver transplant.
In his winning essay, Thornton talks about his experiences as a volunteer where he continues to see how God has worked in his life to allow him to share his experiences to help others.
“The greatest reward I receive is seeing the smiles on the patients’ faces and knowing that I could help distract them from the difficult time they are going through,” Thornton said. “I feel that being able to attend the Transplant Games of America would be a great opportunity for me to share my story with others,” he added.
Contreras’ essay talked about her long journey from losing her 15-year-old daughter, Celeste, to having her husband listed in the liver transplant national list for five years.
“Since both of these life-changing events, we have found comfort and healing working with LifeGift to promote organ, tissue and eye donation, as well as educating the public on donation,” Contreras said. She speaks as a donor mother and Vital Volunteer, and he speaks from the recipient-in-waiting and Vital Volunteer perspective. “Seeing and experiencing how donation
impacts lives, to be seen at an event like the Transplant Games would bring us indescribable comfort,” she added.
As a recipient, Thornton will be competing in several different events, including track and field and a golf tournament. Guzman will also compete in track and field and take part in the 5K run. The Contreras will be a part of the many activities scheduled to honor donor families.
LifeGift is a not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) dedicated to recovering organs and tissue for individuals needing transplants in 109 counties in North, Southeast and West Texas. Originally established in 1987 as Gulf Coast Independent Organ Procurement Organization and later renamed, LifeGift is celebrating 25 years of saving and enhancing lives. It is one of the three OPOs in the state that operates and maintains the Donate Life Texas Registry. For more information about LifeGift, visit www.lifegift.org. For more information about Donate Life Texas, visit www.donatelifetexas.org.
About Transplant Games of America
The Transplant Games of America is a multi-sport festival event for athletes who have undergone life-saving transplant surgeries, as well as for living donors. Competition is open to anyone who has received a solid organ transplant or bone marrow donation. More than just an athletic event, the Transplant Games of America highlights the critical importance of organ and tissue donation, while celebrating the lives of organ donors and recipients. .