New York, NY (March 14, 2000) - San Antonio Spurs forward Sean Elliott, who underwent kidney transplant surgery August 16, will serve as spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation and its 2000 U.S. Transplant Games. This Olympic-style event, to be held June 21-24, 2000 in Orlando, Florida at Disney's Wide World of Sports™ Complex, is for athletes who have received life-saving organ transplants of every type including kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas and bone marrow. Transplant athletes will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in 13 different sports including track and field, swimming, tennis, basketball, cycling and golf. Elliott will light the torch at Opening Ceremonies and participate in the basketball event and medals presentations.
After suffering from glomerulosclerosis for the past six years, Elliott received a kidney transplant from his brother, Noel. Elliott, who is currently serving as color commentator for the Spurs, plans to resume playing basketball this season. Elliott's return to basketball, unprecedented in sports history, will be another comeback for this thirty-two-year-old who returned from knee surgery to sink the shot that brought the Spurs an NBA title last year.
Says 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." Attendance at the 2000 U.S. Transplant Games is expected to reach 8,000, including transplant athletes, their families and friends and families of organ donors. Athlete participants range in age from three to 75.
Elliott will join another NBA legend at the Games, Oscar Robertson, who donated a kidney to his daughter, Tia, a Transplant Games athlete. Says Robertson about the Games, "Everyone who competes is already a winner in the game of life."
Fred Herbert, chairman of the National Kidney Foundation, says, "We're delighted that Sean Elliott has chosen to become our spokesperson. We know he will make a real difference in helping to get the message out about the success of organ transplantation and inspire transplant recipients, donors and those people awaiting organs and their families."
The National Kidney Foundation, a major voluntary nonprofit health organization, is dedicated to preventing kidney disease, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by kidney disease and increasing the availability of kidneys for transplantation.
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, proud sponsor of the 2000 Games, has supported the event since 1990. A committed partner to the transplant community, Novartis is dedicated to enhancing therapeutic options, quality of life and the long term success of therapy for transplant recipients.
For more information on the Games or a free organ donor card call the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010.