In 2001 Mandee Geary from Logan received a heart transplant. A year later, her family was able to meet the donor’s family from Colorado. Since then, they have all decided to continue being “family”, spending time together several times each year for weddings, vacations and holidays. Mandee’s mother, Irene Wilson said “It was scary to know Mandee’s life relied on someone else being an organ donor and hard to know someone else would die saving her life”. Things worked out exceptionally well for Mandee who was called in for her transplant just six days after being added to the transplant list. Mandee’s heart donor was Nicole Scott from Colorado and Nicole’s mother, Amy Johnson said it has helped her healing process to see how Nicole’s organs effected so many lives. Nicole’s heart, kidney and liver, each saved a life.
Also in 2001, USU Sports Information Director, Mike Strauss, received a liver. Later he was able to meet his donor’s adult children, including Kami Taylor, who travels to Logan from Salt Lake to participate in the event with her son. Mike Strauss has since moved to Kansas but keeps in touch with his donor’s family and participates each year in the Transplant Recipient Olympics.
In 2003, Mandee Geary’s family and Mike Strauss’s family, along with the help of Intermountain Donor Services in Salt Lake, decided to start this annual event which takes place each April for Organ Donor Awareness Month. The event committee now includes several who have personal experience with the need for more organ donors. “I first participated in the 5K four years ago when I read about it in the newspaper,” said John Brown, a liver recipient. “It’s inspiring to be surrounded by people who understand what you’re going through and to hear stories from so many Cache Valley neighbors.” 5 Years have passed since John Brown’s transplant and he was able to complete the 5K for the first time this year.
Shelli Moosman and her family have helped with the event for several years. In 2006, she was diagnosed with leukemia and in 2007, her brother Kevin Norman donated his bone marrow to give Shelli a second chance at life. Kevin finished the run Saturday in 22nd place with a time of 25:23.
Susan Smart joined the committee in 2003. Her daughter Lisa Hutson has received 3 organs. Lisa lost her eyesight while waiting for an organ but is doing well and was this year’s key-note speaker at the event. Lisa’s 22 year old son was diagnosed with a rare liver disease when he was 18 years old and has been on the waiting list for 4 years, waiting for a liver.
Missing from this year’s event were Annalisa and Forrest Purser who unexpectedly ended up in Salt Lake so Forrest could receive care for a staph infection. Forrest has been waiting for a liver for 3 years. Annalisa and Forrest have contributed their time and creativity to this event for 3 years and have several friends who share their talents to support this effort.
New participants, the Losee family from Mantua, wore custom tee shirts with their father’s picture, who is waiting for a heart.
The Second Chance Run would like to thank supportive participants, many who have participated more than once. They’d also like to thank their sponsors for continuous support: Utah State University Facilities, USU Police, Jette Youngblood Real Estate, Bonneville Realty, Square One Printing, Intermountain Donor Services, Great Harvest, Geary Electric, KVNU, The Herald Journal, Reminderband, Roto-Rooter, Re/Max West, The Logo Shop, Protective Insurance, and Logan City Fire Department and EMT’s.
To join the group on Facebook , go to http://www.facebook.com/groups/125735970022/. About 100,000 people nationwide and 1000 people in Utah need a life-saving organ. A high percentage of those people are waiting for a kidney which can be donated by Live Donors.
Shawn Lawlor has been involved with the Second Chance Run since anonymously donating his kidney to save a young woman’s life in southern Utah. Jay Bair participated in the run for the first time this year, a year after anonymously donating his kidney to save a doctor’s life in California. Every 12 minutes another name is added to the national registry. It’s free, quick and easy to register to become a donor at yesutah.org or donatelife.net and go to idslife.org to read about becoming a Live Donor. A Lifetime Television Documentary called “The Gift” is also available to share with youth groups or other interested groups (Call Patience Fisher 435-512-1512 to inquire).
The mission of the Utah Donor Registry is to
1) ensure that all those who want to donate can document their wishes, and
2) provide educational materials on the benefits of organ, eye, tissue, and living donation.