Nation's Organ Donors Recognized at the National Kidney Foundation 2002 U.S. Transplant Games

Orland, FL (June 27, 2002) - They've saved the lives of thousands and today, the nation will pay tribute to them at the 2002 Donor Recognition Ceremony, a special event honoring America's organ and tissue donors and their families. The Donor Recognition Ceremony is being held in conjunction with the National Kidney Foundation 2002 U.S. Transplant Games, an Olympic-style event for organ transplant recipients. The ceremony will be held from 2-4 pm at the Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine located at 8300 Vineland Avenue in Orlando. More than 1,200 donor family members are expected to attend with hundreds of transplant recipients, living donors and healthcare professionals.

"The Donor Recognition Ceremony is a special opportunity, particularly when held in conjunction with the Transplant Games, for donor families from all walks of life to join together in remembering and honoring their loved ones," says Ellen Kulik, donor mom and volunteer Chair of the National Donor Family Council. "Just as the Transplant Games celebrates life, the Donor Recognition Ceremony is a celebration of life and love. With a united voice we say, "Our loved ones are forever in our hearts, we remember them, we love them.'"

The Donor Recognition Ceremony will include reflections from donor families, transplant recipients and transplant professionals as well as a special video tribute featuring the names and pictures of donors whose families are attending the ceremony. Also on the program is a musical performance by a children's choir and official presentation of the colors. Donor families attending will be awarded the Gift of Life Medal in honor of their loved ones who have died and donated organs or tissues. "A holly tree has been planted in the Shrine's gardens in memory of all organ and tissue donors. The tree and its commemorative plaque will serve as permanent reminders of the importance of donation to all who visit the Shrine gardens," continues Kulik.

Donor families attending the Games will also participate in a number of related activities, including the Giving, Grieving and Growing program of educational workshops and sharing sessions, an open-mic coffee house and a quilt pinning ceremony, during which families can pin hand-made patches to the Patches of Love: National Donor Family Quilt, a memorial designed by donor families to commemorate their loved ones' gift of life. To date, more than 1,500 families have contributed patches to the quilt, which will be on display in its entirety at the Renaissance Worldgate Hotel lobby for the duration of the Games, June 26-29.

The Donor Recognition Ceremony is presented by the National Kidney Foundation's Donor Family Council, an organization dedicated to supporting the needs of donor families and assisting health care professionals who work closely with these families.