NKF Celebrates 20 Years of the U.S. Transplant Games

This year marked a special milestone for the NKF U.S. Transplant Games, which was held in Madison, Wisconsin from July 30 to August 4. Twenty years ago in Indianapolis, Indiana, NKF held its first Games with about 400 athletes. In 2010, more than 5,000 people attended the Opening Ceremonies, and more than 1,500 athletes competed in over 12 sports events. The biennial event brings together transplant recipients from all over the U.S. to compete in Olympic-style athletic events like track and field, swimming, tennis, volleyball and cycling. The Games serves as a testimony to the lifesaving powers of transplantation and organ donation. Here is what some of the participating athletes had to say about the 2010 Transplant Games:

“I attended my first games in '08, and my partner and I won a Bronze Medal in Doubles Bowling. This year I didn't win a medal, but that's okay, because I've survived two kidney transplants, I participated, and I joined the Quarter Century Club: 25+ years with a transplant!”
        â€”Jonathan Kiser, Transplant Recipient, Team Iowa
“I was the last one to complete each of the swimming events and was cheered on and applauded by the spectators, which helped me make it to the finish line. The team spirit is great and everyone was such an inspiration to me.”
        â€”Sabine Miller, Transplant Recipient, Team Illinois
“Meeting young adults who had transplants as an infant (like my daughter) and seeing them healthy, strong and full of life gave me great hope and comfort.”
        â€”Sandra Roberson, Living Donor Athlete, Team Carolinas
“Seeing my sister win a bronze medal—she was never an athlete before the kidney donation!
        â€”Donna Voorhees-Waltz, Living Donor Athlete, Team Philadelphia
“During the track and field events, the children (under5) were running the 25m dash. One little guy was racing with the assistance of his walker. Before long, the entire track was chanting his name. I took my eyes off him and glanced at his mother, to see tears streaming down her face. As tears filled my eyes and the eyes of everyone else in the crowd, I realized that this is the true spirit of ‘The Games.'

“As a Living Donor athlete, I never imagined how much my competing meant to my son/recipient, Tanner. I won medals in the 100m dash and the softball throw. I presented Tanner with the medals I had won. He asked me why I did that. As I tried to hold back my tears, I responded, ‘Tanner without you I would never have competed in these events. You are the reason I won these medals. You are the hero.' Without missing a beat, he proudly proclaimed, ‘Look, Dad, see what I have. They are mine.' The only feeling that could top that was the joy we felt when on the next day, he won his very own gold medal.”
        â€”Traci Kozak-Krist, Living Donor Athlete and Living Donor Council Executive Committee