As you might already know, I raced in the Summit for Life event at Aspen this weekend to raise money for the Chris Klug Foundation. The mission of CKF is to raise awareness for tissue and organ donation. With their Donor Dudes program, they aim to educate every young person getting their driver’s license to check the box for organ donation.
Every ten minutes another person is put on the national organ waiting list. That waiting list currently has 112,000 critically ill patients on it. 18 people will die today waiting for an organ. When John needed a liver, his only option was a live donor, because the wait for a deceased donor would be too long. He had only 120 days after cancer treatment, and the waiting list was two years.
One donor can save 8 lives through organ donation and enhance the lives of 100 others through tissue donation. Today with cutting edge surgical techniques, more and more lives can be saved. But it takes donors.
Becoming an organ donor is a final gift of life. Chris Klug received a liver 11 years ago and went on to become an Olympic medalist in snowboarding. He believes in second chances, and so do I. Two particularly inspiring participants joined together on Saturday night and raced together–one received a life-saving organ donation, the other was a family member of the deceased donor.
Chris is an inspiring leader. His charisma is heartfelt and his compassion is blinding. This year 500 racers and riders supported the Summit for Life event in which competitors raced to the top of Aspen Mountain by the light of the full moon. When the evening ended, after the awards ceremony in which Keegan Swirbul won with an impressive time of 46:31, after Chris gave an inspirational speech, I rode the gondola down alone. The moon shone high in the sky, lighting the Roaring Fork Valley in splendor, I felt inspired and blessed. Three and a half years ago, my husband got a second chance. And thanks to Chris and his foundation, many more lives will be saved.
Here’s a high-five to my awesome sponsors (I personally raised $600), the 500 racers, the 40 volunteers, the race coordinators, Chris, Missy and Bali Klug, Warren and Kathy Klug and all of the CKF team. If you ever doubt that a small group of committed people can make a difference, join me next time for the Summit for Life. I’ll be back for sure.