PRESS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jeff Shapiro MD, The Relay/Organs 'R' Us, 650.508.9700
Mary Thang of San Jose, Katalina's mom, 408.396.5741
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 350 miles solo, 415.776.0144
ATHLETES GET SET FOR 199-MILE RUN DURING CALIFORNIA'S LONGEST PARTY
SAN FRANCISCO, CA October 10, 2005 - During The Relay on October 15-16, more than 3,500 runners will start from the Calistoga Mineral Water Company as "California's Longest Party" gets underway. Stretching from the scenic Napa Valley 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 Relay 2005 is dedicated to one-year-old Katalina Thang of San Jose who waits for a heart lung donor, heart lung recipient Nancy Fox, and Gilda Vallente who waits for a kidney. "Team Dean" Karnazes will dedicate the world's first 350-mile solo run to finding Katalina a donor. Raaj Gopal, Gilda's husband, will walk 128 miles solo in The Relay Walk to support his wife.
The 2001, 2002, and 2004 Relays were dedicated to Nicholas Green, who donated organs to seven Italians in 1994, including Maria Pia Pedala. Representing a grateful Italy, Maria Pia rang an Italian bell in Calistoga to signal the start of the race. Organs 'R' Us runners relayed the bell 199 miles to Maria Pia at the finish who hung 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.
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, 18 Americans die everyday waiting for organs. Chris Domine (kidney recipient) from Brisbane, Greg Osterman (heart recipient) from Loveland, Ohio and Nelisa Fullerton (father, Grant is a liver recipient) from Texas will run on the ORU team (bib #1) captained by Rita Comes of Menlo Park.
"Team Dean" Karnazes of San Francisco will attempt the first 350-mile continuos run to find baby Katalina the tiny donor that can save her. Dean dedicated his 226-mile solo run (57 hours, 53 minutes) in 2003 to 1-month-old Valeria Sanchez of Chico, CA, while she waited on life support since she was 5-days-old. Three weeks after Dean's run, Valeria received a heart from a 3-day-old infant. Dean dedicated 199-mile solo runs to David Mehran (age 8 months in 2002) of Burlingame and Elizabeth Wood (age 1 in 2000) while they waited for liver transplants. Valeria, David and Elizabeth represent 2,500 children in the US waiting for organ donors and will cheer Dean at the finish.
With 4 Olympians in 2000, "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, Bloomberg, Ernst & Young, Genencor, Granite Construction, Hewlett Packard, IBM (Blue Lightning), Intel, Invitrogen, Komag, Lucas Digital, NASA, Nvidia, Oracle, Scios, Stanford Hospital, US Bank, US Environmental Protection Agency and others. US Air Force, US Army, US Coast Guard (Lifesavers), US Dept. of Justice, Fairfield Police, Vacaville Police and Contra Costa, San Francisco and Santa Clara Fire Departments will compete in the Law Enforcement division.
The 2003 Relay was dedicated to Gilda Vallente, 36, of Daly City who waits for a kidney. With nine hours of dialysis weekly, Gilda's body runs a marathon to survive. Although she tires easily, Gilda and her husband Raaj Gopal, continue working at Home Depot while waiting for a donor.
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 to celebrate Delaney's good health.
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."
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.
Organs 'R' Us 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.
Mary Thang, Nancy Fox, Gilda Vallente, David Mehran, "Team Dean" Karnazes and others are available for interviews.
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