Donate Life Transplant Games of America Inspires Donation and Transplantation Community
On July 11, 2014, the largest contingency of transplant recipients, donor families, fans and supporters descended upon the Hilton Americas hotel in downtown Houston for the 2014 Donate Life Transplant Games of America.
The Games officially kicked off on Saturday, July 12 with 1,500 participants in the Transplant Games 5K race. Opening Ceremonies followed that evening as teams from across the United States proudly marched into BBVA Compass Stadium. Team Texas made a dramatic statement, marching in last with 300 athletes as well as donor families and living donors.
“Team Texas’ entrance into the 2014 Transplant Games of America was one of my proudest moments ever,” said Brian Gilliam, heart transplant recipient, LifeGift volunteer and manager of Team Texas. “Together, with my co-managers Donna Esposito and Amy Frackowiak, we took Team Texas from 35 members when the Games were in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to more than 740 athletes, donor families, supporters and fans in Houston. There are no words to describe that moment.”
Team Texas Cyclists were ready for action at Sam Houston Park in downtown Houston on Day 3 of the Games.
The night continued with a greeting from Houston mayor, Annise Parker, and a performance by Scott MacIntyre, American Idol finalist and kidney recipient. A Texas-sized fireworks extravaganza closed out the evening.
The next four days would include an emotional donor tribute, spirited competition and pin trading. The Transplant Games of America concluded with a Closing Ceremony at the George R. Brown Convention Center, in which the torch for the Games was officially passed off from Houston to Cleveland.
“These Games symbolized hope in its greatest form for transplant recipients and donor families,” said Kevin Myer, president and CEO of LifeGift. “For transplant recipients, the Games demonstrated that one can overcome remarkable odds and still live life to the fullest; for donor families, the Games were a way to pay tribute to those who have left lasting legacies through their generous gifts of organ, eye and tissue donation.”
The Transplant Games of America are held every two years. In 2016, the event will take place in Cleveland, Ohio. For more information, visit, www.transplantgamesofamerica.org.
Clutch, the official mascot for the Houston Rockets, joined the masses in running for organ, eye and tissue donation.
Approximately 1,500 people took to the streets of Houston for the Transplant Games of America 5K.