Walter Payton's daughter, Brittney, has become an advocate for organ donor awareness. Brittney, seen with her mother, Connie, at Walter Payton's funeral, organized a campaign to increased donor awareness among teenagers.
Walter Payton, a nine-time Pro Bowl player and Hall of Famer, played for the Chicago Bears from 1975-1987. On Nov. 1, 1999, at the age of 45, he died after battling a rare liver disease.
It's been a decade since liver disease did something defenders struggled to do and took down Walter Payton. Even so, No. 34 still looms large.
His son Jarrett has daily conversations with him "about what I'm doing and what I should be doing as a man, as a husband. I find myself talking to him every single day."
When he checks the time, it often just happens to be 34 minutes past the hour. His younger sister Brittney will notice a restaurant bill ending in 34 cents and figure it's just her dad's way of letting her know: "Hey, I'm around. I'm involved. I know what's going on."
Diagnosed with a rare liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and then cancer, Walter Payton remains a larger-than-life figure even as the 10th anniversary of his death approaches on Nov. 1.
His legacy is alive and well.
His family is keeping his fight to encourage organ donation going, and the latest initiative has them teaming with the Chicago Bears, cornerback Charles Tillman, Donate Life Illinois, and Astellas Pharma US, Inc. in the "Tackle the Shortage: Donate Life Challenge."
Their immediate goal: register 5,000 donors in Illinois by the end of the year.
Their long-term goal: eliminate the need for a transplant waiting list.
The Paytons and Tillman, whose baby daughter underwent a heart transplant a year ago, will be part of a news conference Monday at Halas Hall to publicize the effort, and the game against Cleveland on Nov. 1 will be dedicated to Walter Payton.
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To register to be a donor in the State of Illinois and to keep Walter Payton's legacy alive, please visit Donate Life Illinois
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