Transplant Games of America 2024

Arrived home today after attending the Transplant Games Birmingham 2024.
It was great making so many new friends in the transplant community.
The Opening Ceremony was inspirational and emotional, especially when the Donor Families filed in. The swing of emotions that happen between two separate groups of people when a loved one dies, usually tragically, and their organs are then used to save the life of someone else, is incredible.

The Veteran recipients earned a well deserved extra round of applause when they marched in.
The music and speakers at the Opening Ceremony and the Donor Tribute were fantastic and one could tell they put in a lot of time to perfect their performances.
I watched with the Texan family of Rowan Sebek, who I mentioned in a previous post, as she competed towards winning 10 medals in swimming.

At 14 she’s quite the swimmer. Rowan was given a 2nd chance at life when as a baby she received a liver transplant from a deceased donor.

Chance Sebek (Rowan’s dad) and Mel at the swimming events.

I really enjoyed watching the Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Team come back after a first game defeat to win their next one and eventually take a silver medal in the Rec. Division.

Only recipients are allowed to participate in basketball or I’d have been out there with them.
The cow mascot at the games was fantastic as he pleaded with a ref, did some cheerleading, provided some halftime entertainment, and in general showed everyone there how to have some good, clean, Sconnie fun.

I really enjoyed the 2 cycling events that were held at the fantastic Barber Motorsports Park.

The track was flawless with tight, slightly banked turns, fun downhills (35 mph) and 3 uphill grades that tested the cardio. I haven’t seen a 174 max HR since my xc-skiing American Birkebeiner days 15 years ago!
Again, super enjoyed hanging out with Mel Hartman and her Texas friends and family.

Mel making fun of me and my road bike, as I’m not a “roadie”.

Mel’s sister Carrie.

Wisconsinites Jim Brien, David Stephenson joined in the cycling fun.

Got to meet Anna Cannington that swept both women’s events (living kidney donor) and part of the 4Women 4Kidneys 444Miles 4Days group. Check out these 4 living kidney donors and what they’ll be doing this September.

Although I can count the times on one hand I’ve ridden a road bike, the Hostel Shoppe set me up with a nice ride and I ended up earning a gold in the 4 mile sprint for my age group in Div. 2. (Living Donors and tissue, cornea, recipients)
In the 14 miler I earned a silver in Div. 2.

Jennifer Kristina made a cool “Organ Trail” rock for people to find to learn about transplantation.

One speaker at the deceased Donor Tribute said “grief is love with nowhere to go”. She talked about transforming that grief/love into something your missing loved one would be proud of you doing in their memory.