Jumble Artist Encourages Organ Donors

Popular puzzle tells artist’s own story of donating his kidney

New York, NY (July 6, 2012) - On Wednesday, July 11, the Jumble puzzle found in more than 600 newspapers across the country will tell a very personal story of puzzle artist Jeff Knurek, who donated his kidney to his cousin in 2007. In doing so, Knurek hopes to encourage others to consider becoming organ donors.

“In the drawing, my character says it was an honor to help him, and it really was,” said Knurek, 46. “It reminded me to embrace life every day.”

A University of Michigan alum, Knurek and his cousin underwent the transplantation surgery at the University of Michigan Health System’s Transplant Center on July 11, 2007. The two men had grown up around the corner from each other, and Knurek credits his cousin with instilling in him a love of games and competition that has fueled his career. After his cousin started suffering from Polycystic Kidney Disease, Knurek had himself tested to see if he was a match and discovered he indeed could help.

Wednesday’s Jumble depicts Knurek and his cousin in the hospital, with the artist dressed in a gown that is marked with his beloved University of Michigan logo. A poster with the words “The Gift of Life. Pass It On.” hangs on the hospital room wall. (The puzzle can be found at www.jumble.com, in many local newspapers and on the fan facebook page at www.facebook.com/jumble.)

His cousin now lives a normal life, and the donation has continued to shape Knurek’s views toward the world. “It reminds me to stay healthy and to cherish the days I have here,” said Knurek, who also invents toys and creates other games.

After the surgery, in 2008, the original Jumble artist retired, and Knurek was selected to draw the Jumble cartoons that accompany the daily word scrambles, making him only the second artist to draw the classic puzzle.

Knurek and his Jumble partner David L. Hoyt are the world‘s most syndicated puzzle creators, having collaborated on word games and puzzles that appear in newspapers, on web sites and in toy stores across the country. The two also have created Jumble See & Search, Boggle BrainBusters, Mac King’s Magic in a Minute, Pat Sajak’s Linked Letters, and USA Today Word Roundup.

While honored to work on the classic puzzle that is a morning tradition to millions, Knurek is also intent on spreading the fun of Jumble to a new generation. He’s worked to create online versions of the puzzles and connect with fans through social media.

“I’m a part of something that has such a long tradition. To know I’m part of people’s daily routines now, I take that very seriously,” Knurek said.

As cartoonist for the Jumble, Knurek is able to blend his interests in art with his love for toy and game inventing. He is the inventor of such popular, award-winning toys as “What’s In Ned’s Head?” and “Monster Under My Bed.” He also develops and licenses children’s magic tricks and products for Las Vegas headliner Mac King. Raised in Southgate, Mich., Knurek received a B.F.A. in Industrial Design with an art education certification from the University of Michigan. He resides in Fishers, Ind., with his wife Kathy, and children, Sydney and Cameron.

Created in 1954, Jumble soon secured its spot as the leading word puzzle in newspapers, second only to the daily crossword puzzle, and has kept its position at the top since. More than 60 million people in the United States and Canada have access to Jumble every day. It is also in English-language papers in other parts of the world.

For more information on how to register as an organ donor in any state, visit www.donatelife.net.