PRESS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Raaj Gopal, Captain, One for 128, 650.270.7778
Pat Bowling, Crew, One for 128, 650.862.4624
Jeff Shapiro, Organs 'R' Us ("ORU"), 650.508.9700, run@TheRelay.com
Ultra "Walkman" Raaj Gopal Trains For 128-mile Solo Walk To Save Lives.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA October 10, 2005 - During The Relay Walk on October 15-16, walkers will start from the Marin French Cheese Co. and travel 128 miles on teams of 12 to the Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz promoting the need for donated organs through ORU. The transfer of the baton from walker to walker symbolizes the transfer of an organ from donor to recipient.
Gilda Waits for a Kidney. In 2002, 35-year-old Gilda Vallente of Daly City, CA learned that her kidneys were failing. With nine hours of dialysis each night, Gilda's body runs a marathon daily to survive. Although she tires easily, Gilda and her husband, Raaj Gopal, work at Home Depot. To support his wife, Raaj ran on the Organs 'R' Us team (bib 1) during The 199-mile Relay from Calistoga to Santa Cruz in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, Raaj will spread Gilda's message by walking 128 miles solo in The Relay Walk on team "One for 128."
Katalina Waits for a Heart and Lungs. Although you would never know it from her smile, Katalina Thang of San Jose (born January 5, 2004) had an unhappy heart. After three surgeries, doctors predicted in September 2004 that Katalina would not survive six months without a new heart. Although Katalina has outlived all forecasts, her condition is deteriorating as she waits for the tiny donor that can save her. Team Dean Karnazes will dedicate his solo 350-mile run during The Relay and Raaj "Walkman" Gopal will dedicate his solo 128-mile walk during The Relay Walk to helping Katalina find a donor.
Pat Resigns Her Position to Walk with Raaj. When she heard that Raaj was training with 20 mile walks, Pat Bowling of Burlingame, CA, resigned her volunteer commitment for The Relay. "The moment I heard that Raaj was walking alone for Gilda and Katalina, I knew I had to walk with him," said Pat, a former marathon runner. "I hope I am able to keep Raaj company for 50 to 60 miles." Pat is also helping Raaj raise money for ORU which will be matched by Home Depot.
The Relay Walk is not about being the fastest. It is about doing the best one can for their team in a celebration of life and walking. While conquering as a team what few dare to face alone, walkers 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 88,000 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 or walk, organ donation saves lives," says ORU coach Jeff Shapiro.
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