Donor Dash celebrations to include first-time meeting between liver recipient and his donor’s family; Eric Studesville, a coach for the Denver Broncos to join participants in raising awareness for donation
The 18th annual Donor Dash 5K hosted by Donor Alliance, the federally designated non-profit organization that facilitates organ and tissue donation in Colorado and most of Wyoming, returns to Denver’s Washington Park on Sunday, July 16, 2017 at 8 a.m. Donor Alliance is aiming to top the record-breaking success from last year’s event, which saw more than 5,800 participants.
“Following record-breaking attendance last year, and now in our 18th year, we continue to be amazed by the incredible number of participants from across the region that have been touched by donation, and are in turn, inspiring other Coloradans to say ‘yes’ to registering to become a donor,” said Sue Dunn, president and CEO of Donor Alliance. “It’s both humbling and gratifying to be able to join our community each year to celebrate the lives saved through donation while honoring those who gave the gift of life.”
The Donor Dash 5K brings Coloradans of all ages together to honor the lives of organ, eye and tissue donors; celebrate the lives of organ, eye and tissue recipients; and recognize those who continue to wait for a lifesaving transplant. In a powerful representation of the lifesaving and emotionally healing possibilities of donation and transplantation, on the Friday prior to this year’s event, Donor Alliance will facilitate a first meeting between the mother of a donor and the recipient of her son’s liver.
Julie Spear, of Boulder, lost her son Evan when he was 19 years old. Evan’s decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor was a rare positive for Julie amidst the darkness of grief, and it transformed her journey. One of the lives Evan saved was Keith Stampley of Alton, Illinois. Keith was the recipient of Evan’s liver. Julie and Keith have never met, but they will do so for the first time on Friday, July 14, while Keith is in town for the Donor Dash.
Also joining the Donor Dash this year is Eric Studesville, a coach for the Denver Broncos, who is a spokesperson for organ, eye and tissue donation. A passionate advocate for the cause, Eric was touched by donation when his mother gave the gift of life to a close family-friend as a living kidney donor. While Eric realizes that not everyone can be a living donor, he hopes to inspire and encourage all residents to register to become an organ, eye and tissue donor at the time of their death. Eric will sign autographs, pose for pictures and meet with attendees in the expo area from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. and again from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Race day registration will begin at 7 a.m., followed by the 5K run/walk at 8 a.m. Participants can form teams or register as individuals. A Diaper Dash for children 3 years old and under will be held at 9:15 a.m. After the race, participants may visit the expo area to get more information about donation and transplantation, browse exhibitors and enjoy a children’s play area.
In addition to a symbolic balloon release to honor those who have made the gift of life possible with their generous donations, the event will include a select group of Coloradans briefly sharing their unique stories about how they have been touched by donation. Transplant recipients and family members of deceased and living donors have come from across the state to speak to participants, and include:
- Julie Spear, donor mother, Boulder: Julie lost her son Even when he was 19 years old. She is proud of her son’s legacy and his decision to become an organ, eye and tissue donor. Julie will be meeting Evan’s liver recipient for the first time just prior to this year’s event.
- Ashleigh Mounger and Maurisa Mounger, liver recipient and living donor, Westminster: After fighting Wilson’s Disease for seven and a half years and eventually being diagnosed with end-stage liver disease, Ashleigh was fortunate to have found a living donor in her sister, Maurisa. Ashleigh thanks Maurisa every day for her generous gift of life. Maurisa considers saving her sister’s life to be one of her life’s biggest accomplishments.
- Gabriela Landeros, donor sister, Denver: Gabriela’s sister, Diana, passed away at the age of 16 and became an organ, eye and tissue donor. When Diana’s family decided to honor her caring nature by donating her organs, her kidneys saved the lives of a man and woman and her liver was sent to Missouri to save the life of a baby girl. Though her life ended much too soon, Gabriela knows that her sister’s giving spirit lives on through the lives that she saved.
- Scott Pinkney, liver recipient, Northglenn: At the age of 49, Scott was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, which doctors estimated had been destroying his liver for more than 30 years. Miraculously, in August 2011, Scott received a new liver and a second chance at life. He is thankful for the opportunity that his donor has given him, and hopes he is making her proud.
Event maps and information on how to register or volunteer for the 2017 Donor Dash 5K can be found on the Donor Dash event page.
For more information about organ, eye and tissue donation, please visit DonorAlliance.org. To register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, please visit DonateLifeColorado.org, or call 303-329-4747 for more information.