PRESS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jeff Shapiro MD, Organs 'R' Us, 650.508.9700
Reg Green, Author "The Nicholas Effect," 818.952.2095
Recipient of Nicholas Green's Liver to Start America's
Biggest Organ Donation Event
SAN FRANCISCO, CA October 19, 2004 - 3,500 runners will race from the Calistoga Mineral Water Company to the Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, beginning on October 23 and finishing the next day, in a race aimed at drawing attention to the shortage of organs for transplantation.
The Relay will be started by Maria Pia Pedala from Sicily, who lay dying from liver failure 10 years ago when seven-year-old Nicholas Green, of Bodega Bay, California, was shot by highway robbers while on vacation with his family in Italy. When his parents, Reg and Maggie Green, donated his organs to seven Italians, Maria Pia received his liver. She recovered, married and named her son Nicholas.
Courtesy of Alitalia and Organs 'R' Us, Maria Pia will be the first of of Nicholas' seven recipients to travel to the United States. On the tenth anniversary of her transplant, Maria Pia, with her husband, Salvatore and children, Nicholas and Alessia, and the Greens, with their three children, will attend The Relay in its tenth year.
The 2004 Relay, organized by Organs 'R' Us, is dedicated to Nicholas. With more than 300 teams, The Relay is the largest event in the world promoting organ donation. Runners travel 36 legs through 36 cities from the scenic Napa Valley Wine Country to Sonoma and Marin, across the Golden Gate Bridge under a full moon, to San Francisco and San Mateo, and through Silicon Valley to Santa Cruz.
Representing a grateful Italy, Maria Pia will ring an Italian bell in Calistoga to signal the start of the race. Organs 'R' Us runners will relay the bell 199 miles to Maria Pia at the finish. Maria Pia will hang the bell on the Children's Bell Tower in Bodega Bay with 140 other bells sent by Italian families, schools and churches to express sympathy and gratitude to the Green family.
"More than 86,000 Americans facing death are waiting for a transplant, the only thing that can save them," says Reg Green. "Every day eighteen die, many of them painfully young, some just babies, because too few grieving families can bring themselves to donate a loved one's organs. If those families could see the devastation the shortage causes, I believe donation rates would soar." Nicholas' story is documented in Reg's book, "The Nicholas Effect" and CBS movie "Nicholas' Gift."
Through Organs 'R' Us, the transfer of the baton from runner to runner symbolizes the transfer of an organ from donor to recipient. The 1997 and 1998 Relays were dedicated to three-year-old Delaney Corbitt who waited since birth for a kidney. While runners crossed the 1997 finish, President Clinton signed a Relay shirt for Delaney at Stanford Hospital after she received her gift of life. 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.
The 2004 race is also dedicated to Gilda Vallente, 36, of Daly City who waits for a kidney. With nine hours of dialysis each week, Gilda's body runs a marathon to survive. Gilda and her husband, Raaj Gopal work at Home Depot. Raaj will run on the Organs 'R' Us team with Maria Pia to promote the need for organ donors.
Organs 'R' Us, a 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 organ transplantation saves lives. "In the long run, organ donation saves lives," says Organs 'R' Us coach Jeff Shapiro.
Maria Pia Pedala, Reg and Maggie Green and others will be available for interviews.
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