‘Walk for Life’ seeking sponsors, supporters
They walk for two reasons: their health — and to promote organ donation.
And on Saturday, Nov. 13, the Letbetters and the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance invite Seguin residents out to Texas Lutheran University’s walking track for an event they hope will raise awareness around Guadalupe County about the need for donating organs to save lives.
That’s because Cliff Letbetter is only alive because nearly five years ago, the family of a North Texas man named Dan — nicknamed “Snake” — died of an aneurism, and the man’s family donated his organs, among them the heart that now keeps Letbetter alive.
Registration for the first Seguin “Walk For Life” begins at the Texas Lutheran University walking track on the corner of Kingsbury and Flemming streets at 7 a.m. The walk begins at 8 a.m. Water, fruit and healthy snacks will be available. Registration fee, which includes a commemorative T-shirt, is $10. Sponsors to help the Letbetters cover the costs of the event are still being sought. Those who sign on by Friday will have their names or corporate logos displayed on the shirts.
The Letbetters attended a similar walk in Del Rio a while ago and were so impressed they decided there should be one in Seguin to raise awareness of the need for transplant donors and encourage members of the community to become organ donors.
Each year, said Cliff Letbetter, 108,500 people wait for transplantable organs around the United States — 10,200 of them in Texas.
Each day, 18 people on the national list die for want of a donor heart, liver, kidney or other organ, and every 12 minutes, a new name is added to the waiting list.
The Letbetters learned firsthand how serious the problem is, and have a formed a non-profit to help spread the word.
“The show of support in the Del Rio community was unbelievable, and it was a great opportunity to meet transplant recipients and donor families,” he said. “We hadn’t gotten 10 miles out-of-town before we said, ‘We have to do this at home in Seguin.’”
The Letbetters know a few transplant recipients and a few donor families, and all are invited to the walk, he said — whether able to walk or not.
“Anyone who registers will get a T-shirt,” he said. “We’re not establishing any particular length. Those who can make a few laps around the track are encouraged to do so. If you can’t, it’s time to quit, bring a lawn chair, enjoy the day and support the cause.”
Any transplant recipients who inform the Letbetters in advance that they’ll be attending will get a special shirt.
“We’d like to hear from any recipient who would like to come out and be involved,” Marcy Letbetter said. “They don’t have to walk — bring a comfortable chair!”
Sponsor donations to cover the costs of the walk and the T-shirts begin at $25. Each sponsor who signs on by Friday will be included on the Walk For Life T-shirt. Sponsors can be individuals, non-profits or businesses, he said. Sponsors at higher levels will get free T-shirts.
The Letbetters hope the walk becomes an annual event like fundraisers for other causes.
“We have the cancer fundraisers — and we support them — but we don’t have anything like this in Seguin,” Marcy said. “In April, which is National Donate Life Month, people are encouraged to think about donating their organs. We wanted something to keep awareness going at other times.”
Her husband agreed.
“It wasn’t National Donate Life Month when I got my heart,” he said. “We’re looking to increase awareness, and hope to have the support of the community.”
The Letbetters want to meet Guadalupe County residents who have a connection to organ donation, either as recipients like Cliff or as donors or surviving members of donor families, and he’s contacted the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance, which supports a walk here.
Esmeralda “Mela” Perez, TOSA manager of communications and community development, believes it’s a wonderful idea.
“Mr. and Mrs. Letbetter have worked on the idea for months,” Perez said. “We’re excited to see they’ve started a “Friends For Life-Seguin.”
A walk supporting organ donation would be a great grassroots effort to raise awareness in the Guadalupe County community, Perez said.
“We’ll start small and build on it,” Perez said.
That will be just fine with Cliff Letbetter.
“Transplant recipients and donor families are a small community and a tight-knit group,” he said. “When one of us is sick, we hear about it. When one of us dies, everybody seems to know it. We know there are recipients, and donor families as well, in Guadalupe County, and we’d like to meet them at the Walk For Life.”
Friends For Life-Seguin is looking for members, entrants, sponsors and volunteers for its first-ever “Walk For Life” to be conducted Saturday, Nov. 13 at Texas Lutheran University. For information, contact Mela Perez at the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance at 1-866-685-0277 or Marcy Letbetter at 830-708-3312 or by e-mail at cmletbetter1987(at)aol.com. Mail donations to Friends For Life-Seguin, 670 Lange Rd., Seguin, 78155.
Friends For Life-Seguin is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Donations are tax deductible.