Orlando, FL (August 10, 1999) - They haven't hit the court or track yet and already this group of athletes has performed death-defying feats. They all carry an inner trophy - a new organ that qualifies them for the dream team in the game of life. Their ultimate trial will kick off at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, the venue selected as the host site for the 2000 U.S. Transplant Games, the National Kidney Foundation announced today.
The Games, to be held June 21-24, 2000, are an Olympic-style event for athletes who have received life-saving organ transplants of every type - 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. Presented biennially by the National Kidney Foundation since 1990 and sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, the U.S. Transplant Games draw participants from all over the country who are organized into 50 stateteams.
"More than 64,000 Americans are currently on the waiting list for life-saving organ transplants and ten people die each day while waiting. The Transplant Games showcase the success of transplantation, demonstrating the life-saving power of organ donation," says Representative Karen L.Thurman (D-FL), whose husband is a kidney transplant recipient.
According to Fred Herbert of Ocala, National Kidney Foundation vice chairman, "The Transplant Games were poised for a first class facility and we are thrilled to partner with Disney's Wide World of Sports - the most inclusive state of the art sports complex in the country. We hope ourspirited competition will slam home the message that every American should consider becoming an organ donor."
Attendance at the 2000 U.S. Transplant Games is expected to surpass the record-breaking participation in the 1998 Games of 5,000 people including transplant athletes, their families and friends and families of organ donors. Athlete participants range in age from three to 75. In addition to athletic competition, the Games will feature four days of special workshops for donor families and an educational program for professionals involved in transplantation. A 5K Road Race open to the Orlando community, will be held at Epcot Center during the four day event.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for us to partner with the National Kidney Foundation, says Mike Millay, director of events for Disney Sports Attractions, Inc. "The Transplant Games is a vivid example of how athletes celebrate life by overcoming obstacles through sports achievement."
"Being a part of the US Transplant Games is truly an honor. Watching these athletes triumph in competition motivates the Novartis team to fulfill its mission of developing new therapies and approaches that improve transplant recipient quality of life," said Anthony Venditti, vice president of Transplantation, Tissue Engineering, Immunology, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.
The National Kidney Foundation is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases and increasing the availability of all organs 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.