PRESS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jeff Shapiro MD, The Relay/Organs 'R' Us, 650.508.9700
Nancy Fox of Modesto, Emcee, Heart Donor, 209.521.1251
Gilda Vallente of Daly City, waits for kidney, 650.754.0459
Team Dean (Karnazes) of San Francisco, will run 300 miles solo, 415.776.0144
Greg Osterman of Loveland, Ohio, Runner, Heart Recipient, 513.697.8744
Mike Corbitt of Pleasanton, Captain, Team Organ-ize the Planet, 510.521.8100
Reg Green of Bodega Bay, Author, "The Nicholas Effect," 707.875.2263
Mike Milich of Boulder Creek, Intermec, 831.338.4961
WHAT HAS 36 LEGS, 24 FEET AND RUNS ALL NIGHT?
SAN FRANCISCO, CA October 1, 2003 - During The Relay, more than 3,500 runners will start from the Calistoga Mineral Water Company on October 11 as "California's Longest Party" gets underway. Stretching from the scenic Napa Valley Wine Country to the Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, this event combines technology and running to promote the critical need for donated organs through Organs 'R' Us.
"Welcome to Calistoga and thanks for supporting Organs 'R' Us," booms Nancy Fox over the loudspeaker. "I am an organ donor. I donated my heart to a 57 year old man from Florida." As mouths drop open in disbelief, Nancy continues. "You heard correctly. I am a heart donor, but we have a race to begin so you will hear the rest of my story at the finish." Nancy sounds the start gun and 12 member teams begin their 24-hour adventure.
The 2003 Relay is Dedicated to Gilda Vallente, 35, of Daly City who waits for a kidney. With nine hours of dialysis each night, Gilda's body runs a marathon each day to survive. Although she tires easily, Gilda and her husband Raaj Gopal, continue working at Home Depot while waiting for a donor. Raaj will run three legs on Team Organs 'R' Us to promote the need for organ donors.
"Team Dean" Karnazes of San Francisco dedicated his 199-mile solo run (48 hours, 17 minutes) in 2002 to 8-month-old David Mehran of Burlingame. While David waited in Packard's Children's hospital for a liver transplant, Ardeshir Mehran prepared to donate part of his liver to his dying son. Six days after Dean crossed the finish, David received a liver from a three-year-old boy. David represents 2,500 children in the US waiting for organ donors and will wait at the finish for Dean to complete his first solo 300-mile run.
Greg holds the record for completing seven marathons after receiving a heart transplant. On October 26, 1992 in Cincinnati, Ohio, doctors told Greg's family that he would not survive another 24 hours. Later that day, a stranger's family saved 38-year-old Greg's life by donating a loved one's heart. Greg's Olympic determination has carried him through heart failure and lymphoma and now, across the country, to inspire others by runnng on the Organs 'R' Us team.
The 2001 and 2002 Relays were dedicated to the memory of Nicholas Green who was shot in 1994 while asleep in the back of a car. Reg and Maggie Green of Sonoma County donated Nicholas' organs to seven Italians as documented in Reg's book, "The Nicholas Effect" and CBS movie "Nicholas’ Gift". "With more than 82,000 Americans waiting, this race serves as a reminder about the importance of donated organs," explains Reg.
The 1997 and 1998 Relays were dedicated to Delaney Corbitt of Pleasanton who received a kidney at age 3. While runners crossed the 1997 finish, President Clinton signed a Relay shirt for Delaney at Stanford Hospital. Captain Mike Corbitt will lead team Organ-ize the Planet in Delaney's honor.
Through Organs 'R' Us, the transfer of the baton from runner to runner symbolizes the transfer of an organ from donor to recipient. The 1999 and 2000 Relays were dedicated to 47-year-old Paul McVetty who passed away on October 24, 2000 after waiting four years for a liver. Like Paul, 16 Americans die everyday waiting for transplants. Steve Fratus (liver recipient) from Castro Valley, Chris Domine (kidney recipient) from Brisbane and Nelisa Fullerton (father is waiting for a liver) from Texas will run on the ORU team (bib #1) captained by Rita Comes of Menlo Park.
Started in 1995 with just 9 teams, The Relay is the nation's second largest long distance relay attracting 300 teams of 12 runners from the US and Canada. The 199-mile course through 36 cities is divided into 36 segments and boasts the largest number of tourist destinations of any run. Running 3 legs of 3 to 8 miles, participants travel through Calistoga, Napa, Sonoma, Marin, Sausalito, across the Golden Gate Bridge at midnight under a full moon, through San Francisco and Silicon Valley to Santa Cruz.
The Relay is not about being the fastest. It is about doing the best one can for their team in a celebration of life and running. While conquering as a team what few dare to face alone, runners work together to meet challenges and overcome hardships during the 24-hour adventure. Add bands, food, full moon and glow jewelry and "California's Longest Party" is "the most fun 24 feet can have…in the best place on earth."
With 4 Olympians, "Sportbrain" covered 199 miles in 17 hrs. and 55 min. and shattered the course record by more than two hours. Many high tech companies will pound the pavement in the corporate division including Applied Biosystems, ARCO & ampm, Bloomberg, Ernst & Young, Genencor, Granite Construction, Hewlett Packard, IBM (Blue Lightning), Intel, Lucas Digital, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, NASA, Oracle, Providian, Stanford Hospital, US Bank, US Environmental Protection Agency and others. US Air Force, US Coast Guard (Lifesavers), Golden Gate Bridge and Contra Costa, Fairfield, San Francisco and Santa Clara Fire Departments will compete in the Law Enforcement division.
Providian relays the message on organ donation with 5 teams of runners and hundreds of volunteers. As the 5th largest credit card issuer in the nation with 13 million customers, San Francisco based Providian provides volunteers at the race start in Calistoga, the Midnight Madness Exchange at the Golden Gate Bridge and the finish in Santa Cruz. In 1999, more than 5,000 of Providian's 8,000 Bay Area employees signed organ donor pledges.
Technology makes its mark behind the scenes as Bay Area companies donate sophisticated products. Intermec donated the use of $250,000 of bar coding equipment in 1996 when The Relay became the first long distance run to use bar-coding for precise timing. Since 2000, Intermec relayed finish times via a wireless network providing instant online results.
Trimble Navigation maps a course for success by providing Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping technology accurate to within a meter to generate 36 precise leg maps for runners. From a constellation of satellites, 32,000 positions along the 199-mile course are recorded and analyzed using Trimble's state-of-the-art Pathfinder Pro XR GPS Mapping System.
A virtual course will soon be released allowing runners to preview the course terrain. Using advanced Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML), Albuquerque-based Rapid Imaging Software imports GPS mapping data into LandForm 3-D terrain viewer software to create an exact replica of the course that runners will experience.
Organs 'R' Us, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation, was founded in San Francisco in 1996 and supports transplant recipients, candidates, family members, friends and donor families by promoting organ donation through athletics. Through walking and running, this group showcases their fitness proving that transplantation restores health. "In the long run, organ donation saves lives," says Organs 'R' Us coach Jeff Shapiro.
Gilda Vallente (transplant candidate), David Mehran (liver recipient, age 1), "Team Dean" Karnazes, Greg Osterman, Reg and Maggie Green (Nicholas' parents), emcees Nancy Fox (heart donor/heart lung recipient) and Sallee D'Anna (liver recipient) and others are available for interviews.
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