National Kidney Foundation 2002 U.S. Transplant Games Celebrity Profiles
New York, NY (May 5, 2002)
Sean Elliott suffered with kidney disease for six years before receiving a kidney transplant from his brother, Noel, in August of 1999. The San Antonio Spurs forward who sank the shot that brought the Spurs an NBA title in 1999, made his comeback to basketball seven months post-transplant. While his comeback was unprecedented in pro basketball history, to quote Elliott, "I'm thrilled to return to the court, but as evidenced by the Transplant Games, I'm not the only transplant recipient to compete in sports. What's important is that people can see that transplantation works and begin to consider becoming organ donors." Elliott, who played for one and a half seasons post-transplant, currently travels with the team as commentator.
At the Games, Elliott will participate in the Opening Ceremonies, medals presentations and conduct a basketball clinic. He will also preside over the first-ever Living Donor Recognition Event.
Larry Hagman, who everyone loved to hate as J.R. Ewing on the hit TV series "Dallas," received a life-saving liver transplant in 1995 and has since become a champion of organ donation, serving as honorary chairman of the National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games since 1996. According to Hagman, "the U.S. Transplant Games are a true celebration of a second chance at life for transplant recipients from across the country." Since his transplant, Hagman starred in two "Dallas" made-for-TV movies as well as the series "Orleans" and two motion pictures, "Nixon" and "Primary Colors." He is currently promoting his new book titled Hello Darlin', an autobiography of Hagman's life on and off-screen.
At the Games, Hagman will participate in the Opening Ceremonies, Donor Recognition Ceremony and medals presentations.
Chris Klug, snowboarder and liver transplant recipient, was one-of-a-kind at the Winter Olympics this past February in Salt Lake City. In July 2000, he received a transplant following a seven-year battle with liver disease. Only five months post transplant, Chris Klug was back on the snowboarding competition circuit, winning a World Cup victory in the parallel giant slalom. At the 2002 Winter Olympics, he turned in an equally gutsy performance and won the bronze medal in the men's parallel giant slalom competition. As with his liver transplant, Klug overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to reach the Olympic podium. Chris says he thanks God everyday for the second chance he was given by his donor family and that he "intends to make the most of their gift by celebrating with all of the attendees at the Games and continuing to spread the life-saving message of organ donation."
At the Games, Klug will participate in the Opening Ceremonies and the Donor Recognition Ceremony.
Fernando Bryant, star cornerback for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars knows first-hand the life saving power of organ donation. His brother, Larry, received a kidney transplant in 2001 after a four year battle with kidney disease. He says he is honored to be a part of the U.S. Transplant Games and "hopes to help draw attention to the urgent need for organ donors in this country." Bryant, who began his football career at Alabama, was the highest-drafted cornerback ever selected by the Jaguars.
At the Games, Bryant will conduct a children's football clinic at the NFL Experience on the Wide World of Sports Complex.