Transplant Games Participants Hope Message Is Heard
Closing Ceremonies Held Tuesday Evening
MADISON, Wis. -- The 20th annual Kidney Foundation Transplant Games in Madison wrapped up in closing ceremonies Tuesday night, and organizers and participants said they hope the event raised awareness about organ donation.
The idea behind the Transplant Games is to show the world the difference that organ donors can make.
The closing ceremonies honored the athletes and those who go above and beyond across the country trying to help others and spread the transplant message.
It was a very successful Transplant Games for Portland, Ore., native Laura Ellsworth, but she said the medals aren't what's important.
"I actually medaled in every event that I did so I'm very pleased with that," Ellsworth said. "The games are such a celebration of life and gratitude and honoring our nation's donors and donor families and living donors. It's kind of like Disneyland in a way."
Ellsworth was honored for her work advocating for donors in her home state.
"Everybody here, you're my inspiration. So thank you for showing the world that transplantation works," she said.
But Ellsworth said she also hopes the torch was passed to the people of Wisconsin.
"It just allows some glimmer of something positive and if the games do that for families here in Wisconsin and Madison, that's what they're all about," Ellsworth said.
Local organizers of the games said they hope Wisconsin residents will remember the message of the games and take action.
"We have 108,000 people waiting tonight for organ transplants, and we just need more donors to get those folks transplanted," said Trey Schwab, of the University of Wisconsin Hospital Organ Procurement Organization.
Organizers said they don't yet know just how many people signed up for Wisconsin's new online donor registry but they believe that because of the games and the many incredible stories of lifesaving transplants that more people have and will sign up to be donors.
"It's been a great boost for our donor registry here in our state of Wisconsin, which was one of our main reasons why we put the bid in and tried to host the games here this summer," Schwab said.
People can sign up anytime to be an organ donor at Wisconsin's new online donor registry at -- yesiwillwisconsin.com.