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
Mary Thang of San Jose, Katalina's mom, 408.396.5741
Demi Rockas of Fairfax, liver recipient Aug. 19, 2005, 415.497.8402
Gilda Vallente of Daly City, kidney recipient Feb. 5, 2006, 650.754.0459
Julie Coleman of Chapel Hill, NC, Justin's mom, 919.967.3221
John Gamblin of San Rafael, Captain, New Pony Express, 415.721.3196
Debra Murray of Santa Rosa, Captain, Skirt, 707.528.4686
Janet Portley of Fremont, Captain, Seagate Xtreme Drives, 408.941.5210
Team Dean (Karnazes) of San Francisco, runs for Katalina, 415.776.0144
ATHLETES GET SET FOR 199-MILE RUN DURING CALIFORNIA'S LONGEST PARTY
SAN FRANCISCO, CA April 3, 2006 - During The Relay on April 8-9, up to 3,000 runners will start from the Calistoga Mineral Water Company in scenic Napa Valley and travel 199 miles on teams of 12 to the Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz promoting the need for donated organs through Organs 'R' Us. The transfer of the baton from runner to runner symbolizes the transfer of an organ from donor to recipient.
"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 2006 is dedicated to two-year-old Katalina Thang of San Jose who waits for a heart lung donor, Demi Rockas, liver recipient August 19, 2005, Gilda Vallente, kidney recipient February 5, 2006 and Justin Lord Coleman, organ donor October 17, 2003.
With 4 Olympians, the 2000 "Sportbrain" team ran 36 legs through 36 cities and across the Golden Gate Bridge at midnight in 17 hrs., 55 min., shattering the course record by 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.
"Team Dean" goes green to save baby Katalina. For 200 miles, "Team Dean & Jim" (Vernon), will alternate running and biking with a trailer containing supplies to help find a tiny donor for Katalina. Dean has dedicated solo runs in The Relay to Elizabeth Wood (2001 liver recipient at 6 months), David Mehran (2002 liver recipient at 8 months) and Valeria Sanchez (2003 heart recipient at 7 weeks). After Dean ran for Katalina in 2004 (262 miles) and 2005 (350 miles), a donor was found. As Katalina was prepped to receive a new heart and lungs, the lungs were found to be damaged.
Team Organs 'R' Us (bib 1) represents 90,000 Americans waiting for organ transplants. Chris Domine (kidney recipient) from Brisbane, Greg Osterman (heart recipient) from Loveland, Ohio and Elizabeth Scherle (Anomaly Design, San Rafael), ORU's first runner trainee, will run on the ORU team captained by Rita Comes of Menlo Park and Steve Chin of Mountain View. The ORU team will dedicate their 2006 run to Justin Coleman of Chapel Hill, NC who bettered the lives of 36 others through organ donation. Justin's mother, Julie, and his sister, Chandra Coleman- Ross, will participate on the ORU team.
Demi Rockas leads team Aromatic Blend (bib 11). After receiving a new liver on August 19, 2005, Demi Rockas of Fairfax, CA volunteered at The Relay finish and raised money for ORU. Captain Robert Mardell of Santa Clara and Demi will lead 12 smelly bodies in The Relay 2006.
The New Pony Express (bib 21) with Captain John Gamblin (San Rafael) and 11 Wells Fargo runners will honor 5-year-old Jason Zhao (Vallejo). After surviving a stroke and seven months on an external heart pump until a donor was found, Jason received a new heart on February 6, 2006. Jason and his dad Guanglin Zhao, a software engineer with Wells Fargo, will cheer the Pony Express across the finish on the beach in Santa Cruz.
Team Skirt (bib 116) shows a little leg. Captain Deb Murray of Santa Rosa will lead 11 women running 199 miles in yes...skirts. These Skirts are not just 24 pretty legs. The girls are dedicating their run to two Sonoma County women; 45-year-old Mary Ann Milne who donated her organs on January 15, 2006 after suffering a ruptured aneurysm, and Diane Madero who donated part of her liver to Tom Happ on January 24, 2001.
Team Seagate Xtreme Drives (bib 127) with Captain Janet Portley (San Jose) and CEO Bill Watkins will run in honor of 10-year-old Zach Gibson (San Leandro) who received a kidney from Donna Gibson (Zach's mom) when he was 10-months-old. Zach and his twin, Alex, will run the final leg of The Relay with Seagate runner, Peter Gibson (their dad).
Team Masters of Disaster (bib 16) from Huntington Beach, CA, master donation. After competing in more than 50 marathons and ultras during 25 years of running, Captain Sue Rudolph was diagnosed with cirrhosis in 2003 and admitted to the intensive care unit with liver failure. Since Sue has never consumed alcohol, smoked or taken drugs, the cause of her cirrhosis is unknown. Although she may need a liver transplant, Sue has resumed running (at a slow pace). After running The Relay in 2005, Sue is bringing her own team from Southern California to the 2006 race. Sue is adding The Relay to Amazing Running Tours to attract more teams.
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.
After starting with nine teams in 1995, The Relay became the nation's second largest long distance relay in 1997 and has attracted more than 300 teams of 12 runners. The 199-mile course through 36 cities 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."
Organs 'R' Us was founded in San Francisco in 1996 and supports 90,000 Americans waiting for organs by generating $25 million in publicity promoting the need for donors through athletics. Through running and walking, ORU members showcase their fitness proving that transplantation restores health. "In the long run, organ donation saves lives," says ORU coach Jeff Shapiro.
Nancy Fox, Mary Thang, Demi Rockas, Gilda Vallente, Julie Coleman, "Team Dean" Karnazes and others are available for interviews.
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