Volume 97 Issue 10 News

21st Donor Dash for organ procurement hosted in Philadelphia

Gift of Life hosted its 21st annual Donor Dash and Brunch on April 17 in Philadelphia. Gift of Life is one of 58 organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States.

“The Gift of Life is a powerful and recognized organization that has impacted thousands of people,” said Elise Mihranian ’14, who assisted in organizing the event.

“Founded in 1974 by the Greater Delaware Valley Society of Transplant Surgeons, Gift of Life is one of the oldest and largest of 58 organ procurement organizations in the United States. Gift of Life is part of the nationwide organ and tissue sharing network run by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS),” said Lisa Jenkins ’90. “In addition, Gift of Life coordinates life-enhancing tissue transplants for area residents who are in need of corneas for sight-restoring procedures, as well as skin, tissue and bone to repair injuries. Gift of Life partners with 130 acute care hospitals to offer families from around the region the option of donation.”

“Juniata has been involved in the Donor Dash in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. This is going to be the fifth year that our group is going to help put a team together for Gift of Life,” said Christina Miller, assistant director of alumni relations.

“The Donor Dash is an event that the Juniata College Delaware Valley Alumni team coordinates and supports every year,” said Mihranian.

The Donor Dash is supported by the Juniata College Delaware Valley Alumni team. “The Juniata Delaware Valley leadership team, which is our club in the Philly area, they felt that it was really important to support Howard, and they decided that one way that they can help Howard was to create a team for Gift of Life,” said Miller. “Each year, except for 2014, they put together a team, usually raise a couple hundred dollars, and have between five to 15 people on their team each year to help with Gift of Life.”

The very first Donor Dash, held in 1996, was created in the memory of Mickey Braverman who died while waiting for a liver transplant.

“Mickey’s widow, Claire, created this event to raise awareness for the 21 people who die each day nationally waiting for a liver transplant. Claire wanted to assure that no other family had to go through the pain of watching a love one die, because an organ was not available,” said Miller.

Since the Gift of Life’s founding, the organization has raised enough money to coordinate more than 40,000 life-saving organ transplants and over 550,000 tissue transplants.

“Everyone has a story of how organ donation and the Gift of Life program has had an impact on their lives,” said Jenkins.

“The money raised at Gift of Life goes directly back to the Gift of Life program. Gift of Life is a nonprofit organization, so they rely on these kinds of events to help raise money to provide housing for family members who are waiting for their loved ones to get out of the hospital,” said Miller. “Just to have the funds to be able to match organ donors with people who are waiting for organ donors.”

The Dash is comprised of three races: a 10k run, a 5k run and a 3k walk, which start at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “The donor dash starts at the Philadelphia museum of art, and registration begins at 6am. Everything ends around 10am, when the awards presentation happens. Then at 10:30, the group will just walk a couple blocks to a place called The London Grill,” said Miller.

Juniata will also have a team of runners running this year for the Dash. “It is increased exposure for the Juniata community at large and in the Delaware Valley where there are a lot of local alumni,” said Jenkins. “It is very satisfying to support Howie in his passion and to help transplant patients and their families.”

“We have a small group of about eight runners but that’s what makes it special. True to Juniata form, the small JC team really forms a bond the day of the run,” said Mihranian. “I participated in the event last year and it was just magnificent to see thousands of runners gathering around such a great cause. It made me proud to have a connection to Juniata, and to Howard Nathan who founded the Gift of Life. It was great to be a part of something so much bigger than myself and I got to meet some new alumni in the area as well.”

“It is a wonderful example of Juniata’s commitment to philanthropy and molding individuals who make a difference in the world. It’s really special and meaningful for JC to continue this connection and relationship with the organization,” said Mihranian.

“Not only are we providing service, but we are also providing an opportunity to help one of our own. Howard has done some amazing things, and he running this organization that is helping people’s lives every day, and to be able to run or raise a couple hundred dollars to support that is just showing the importance of being connected to our Juniata family, and supporting each other in everything we do,” said Miller.

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