This year marks the celebration of the 20th annual Donor Dash 5K run/walk, hosted by Donor Alliance, the federally designated non-profit organization that facilitates organ and tissue donation in Colorado and most of Wyoming. The race returns to Denver’s Washington Park on Sunday, July 21, 2019 at 8 a.m. Donor Alliance is aiming to top the success of last year’s event that saw record-breaking attendance with nearly 6,500 race participants.
Since 2000, the Donor Dash has brought more than 50 thousand participants of all ages together to celebrate and honor the lives of organ, eye and tissue donors, recipients and their families and recognize those who continue to wait for a lifesaving transplant.
“As we celebrate the 20th year of this remarkable event and look back at years passed, I’m reminded that the longstanding success of the Donor Dash and the strides we’ve made in donation and transplantation are a direct reflection of the generosity of our community ,” said Sue Dunn, president and CEO, Donor Alliance. “Since we started this event nearly 20 years ago, more than 6,000 lives have been saved through organ donation and tens of thousands more have been healed through tissue donation. As we have each year, we will remember and honor the heroic donors and their families for their gifts and look forward to a hopeful future for those still waiting for a lifesaving transplant.”
Also joining the Donor Dash this year is Colorado resident, former Denver Bronco and Super Bowl 50 champion, Ryan Harris. Ryan’s father was the recipient of a kidney transplant from a living donor that saved his life. He was so inspired by the generous gift of life that his father’s donor gave and the profound impact it has had on his entire family, that he has become a passionate advocate for organ, eye and tissue donation. Ryan hopes that by sharing his and his family’s story that he will inspire more residents to sign up to become organ, eye and tissue donors at the time of their death. Ryan will sign autographs, pose for pictures and meet with participants in the post-race expo area from 8:30 – 9:15 a.m.
Following this year’s race, Ryan Harris and a select group of participants will briefly share their touching stories and the profound impact the Donor Dash has had on them and their families over the last 20 years during a post-race celebration. Transplant recipients and family members of deceased donors speaking to participants include:
- Connor Randall, heart transplant recipient, Arvada: Connor was just six-months old when he received his first heart transplant. Connor had a happy and healthy childhood until his body started rejecting the transplant at age 11
, and he was put back on the waiting list. Connor was scheduled to speak at the 6th Donor Dash to share his prospective on waiting for a lifesaving transplant. However he was not able to make it as, struggling with extreme illness, he received his second life changing gift, another new heart, in July of 2005. Today, Connor is able to be active and enjoy showing his gratitude to his donors by volunteering and giving back to his community.
- Kacey Johnson, tissue and bone transplant recipient, Colorado native: Kacey is a survivor of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. Kacey was trapped in the school library when the shooters entered and started firing. She was shot at close range, severely injuring her shoulder and hand. Thanks to the heroic efforts of her medical team and her donor, Kacey survived and was given the gift of donated bone and tissue to rebuild her shoulder, arm and hand. A long-time Donor Dash participant, Kacey now travels across the country sharing her story as a speaker and an author.
- Robin Mitchell, mother of a donor, Centennial: Robin lost her son Joe in 2008, but found hope and pride in the fact that Joe’s death gave life and healing to many in need. Joe’s decision at 15-years-old to sign up as an organ, eye and tissue donor meant that he was able to save the lives of five men through organ donation and restore the sight of two others through corneal transplants. Robin considers Joe a hero for his choice and encourages others to talk to their families about signing up to become donors. She and dozens of Joe’s family and friends have been running and walking the Donor Dash as a part of Team One Love in honor of Joe’s gifts for 11 years.
Participants can register for the Donor Dash by forming a team or registering as individuals. Online team registration for the event is open until July 14 and for individuals until July 19. Race day registration will begin at 7 a.m., followed by the 5K run/walk at 8 a.m. A Diaper Dash for children 3-years-old and under will be held at 9:15 a.m.; onsite registration is required. After the race, participants can continue the celebration of life in the free expo area. Enjoy activites designed to honor, celebrate and recognize donors, learn more about donation and transplantation, browse exhibitors and enjoy a children’s play area. A celebratory program will begin on stage in the post-race expo area at 9:30 a.m.
Event maps and information on how to register or volunteer for the 2019 Donor Dash 5K can be found on the Donor Dash event page.
To sign up to become an organ, eye and tissue donor, please visit DonateLifeColorado.org, or call 303-329-4747 for more information.