FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 22, 2012

Contact:  Kyle Pietari, Outreach and External Affairs Coordinator
American Transplant Foundation
kyle@americantransplantfoundation.org
(303) 757-0959
 

Team Transplant announces 2012 season cycling team members, sponsors

New and inspiring stories emerge about members of the 2012 American Transplant Foundation cycling team

(Denver, Colo.,) – On Sunday, June 3rd, Team Transplant – the charity cycling team of the American Transplant Foundation – will ride the 25th Anniversary Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival in Douglas County for the fourth consecutive year.

More than 100 team members will participate, with members riding all course lengths: the 7-mile family ride, the 25-mile off-road course, and 34-, 62-, and 100-mile routes. Key participants include Colorado Lt. Governor Joe Garcia; Olympic snowboarder and liver transplant recipient Chris Klug; Douglas County resident/kidney donor and West Metro firefighter Russ Cupps; and more than 25 transplant recipients and living organ donors.  All team members both ride and raise funds to support organ and tissue donation, and new Team Transplant members can sign up until May 30th.

Colorado Lt. Governor Joe Garcia
“We are incredibly honored to have the support and participation of Lt. Governor Garcia for the second year in a row,” said Anastasia Darwish, the Executive Director of American Transplant Foundation.  “The Lt. Governor understands that increasing organ and tissue donation will not only save lives, but also helps to decrease health care costs to benefit stronger economic growth.  He is a great advocate for our mission – and also a great cyclist!”

Garcia will serve as the Team Transplant 62-Mile Course Captain at the Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival.

Chris Klug
Can a transplant recipient still ride a bike after getting a new organ?  How about bombing down mountains on a snowboard?

 Snowboarder and Aspen resident Klug is the only person ever to win an Olympic medal after receiving an organ transplant.  After his life was saved by a liver transplant in 2000, he went on to win a bronze at the 2002 Winter Olympics in parallel giant slalom snowboarding.

“Supporting organ donation and participating in sports like snowboarding, surfing and biking are two of my very favorite things.  Riding with Team Transplant is a way to do both at the same time,” said Klug.

“Chris Klug is an incredible advocate for organ donation.  He is one of our heroes, and we are honored to have him ride with Team Transplant,” said Darwish.

Klug is the founder of Chris Klug Foundation and Donor Dudes, which raise awareness about organ donation and register new donors.  Klug will be riding as the Team Transplant Captain of the 100-mile course on June 3.

Russ Cupps
Cupps, a resident of Castle Rock, is a firefighter with the West Metro Fire Protection District.  After riding the 2009 Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival 25-mile course, Cupps visited the Team Transplant exhibit tent where he was inspired to action by meeting a kidney transplant recipient.  He went on to donate a kidney to a stranger in 2010.

As a firefighter, saving lives is part of Cupps’ job.  But he went beyond the call of duty and showed his true commitment to helping others by becoming an altruistic donor.

Justin from Colorado Springs, then the anonymous recipient of Cupps’ kidney, will be cycling alongside Cupps with Team Transplant this year in the 25-mile course.  They agreed to meet after the surgery and became friends, now sharing a unique and powerful bond.

“Russ is one of Colorado’s true heroes,” said Darwish, “Donating his kidney to a stranger was an extreme act of compassion.”

“Russ’s gift not only saved a life, but also saves health care dollars for every taxpayer.  Medicare saves about $50,000 every year after a patient has a kidney transplant instead of being on dialysis.  Russ’s gift to Justin was also a gift to all of us,” said Darwish.

“Russ is an example of everything that we hope to accomplish by organizing outreach efforts with Team Transplant,” said Darwish.  “Our goal is to not only raise funds and awareness about organ donation, but to also inspire people to take action.  Whether they end up donating a kidney like Russ did or just talking with their family about the importance of organ donation, we are thrilled to reach so many people through Team Transplant, and to see people like Russ make a real impact.”

Vienna Danna
Vienna is 7 years old, 7 years post-transplant, and will ride the 7-mile family course at the 25th Anniversary Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival.  Vienna is one of Team Transplant’s top fundraisers, having raised more than $3,000 two weeks before the event.

“Vienna does her own fundraising,” said Paul Danna, Vienna’s father.  “When she asks someone to make a donation in her honor, it’s almost impossible to say no!”

With an adorable smile and a powerful story about how her life was saved by a liver transplant when she was only six months old, it is easy to understand why Vienna is so successful at fundraising.

Vienna was the winner of the 2011 Shimano Youth Series children’s race at the Subaru Elephant Rock, motivated by the desire to prove that a person can still lead an active, healthy lifestyle after a transplant.  She was presented a special “Team Transplant Champion” jersey by Colorado Lt. Governor Joe Garcia for being one of the team’s top fundraisers that year.

“We are so grateful to our donor’s family,” said Traci, Vienna’s mother, of Vienna’s donor. “Because of his gift, I get to kiss a miracle every day.”

Vienna will ride the 7-mile family road course with Team Transplant at the 2012 Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival.

Sponsors
Team Transplant is grateful for the support of our 2012 Season sponsors:

Presenting Sponsor: DaVita

Endurance Sponsors: Donor Alliance, University of Colorado Hospital, Porter Adventist Hospital

Strength Sponsors: Novartis, and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

 The American Transplant Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that works to increase the donation of organs and tissue to reduce the growing list of men, women and children who are awaiting a lifesaving transplant.

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