July 29, 2010
National Kidney Foundation
MADISON, Wis. - The city of Madison will play host to the 2010 National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games, July 30-August 4. Members of the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department staff will actively participate in the event's 20 year anniversary.
Among those participating are Dan Ott and Bridget Warren who currently assist student-athletes in the Academic Services department.
In addition, several city venues will host the series of Olympic-style events for athletes who received a life-saving organ transplant. Donor recipients are organized into teams based on their home state and compete for gold, silver and bronze models. Many of the 12 competitions will take place at on-campus facilities including the McClimon Memorial Track and Soccer Complex, Nielsen Tennis Stadium and Natatorium.
Living donor recipients will compete in the events, but several other supporters will pass through the doors of the Monona Terrace on July 30 to register for a variety of other events.
As the games, which occur every two years, celebrates two decades, Ott, a learning specialist in the UW Academic Services department was asked to create a commemorative piece for the 20-year celebration.
Aside from assisting Wisconsin student-athletes with their academics, Ott is also an artist who uses recycled paper to create geometric masterpieces. While displaying and selling some of his artwork at the 2010 Madison Art on the Square festival a few weeks ago, Ott was approached by the National Kidney Foundation.
"They were looking for a local artist to create a commemorative piece celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the games," Ott said. "I had the National Kidney Foundation office send me programs and posters and paper materials from the past 20 years of the games. I received a big pile of paper and cut it into squares, and basically created a paper quilt that is made out of several different sized squares and it has spaces between each square."
Ott will bring the 45 by 55 inch piece, along with three whole-size copies of it to the games. As participants enter the Monona Terrace to register on the first day, each participant will be asked to sign the seams of one of the pieces. Ott hopes that each signature will represent how each participant is "woven" together and can all relate to one another in some way.
"I decided to name the piece `I am here because of you'," Ott explained. "I actually got the name before I got the concept because I looked at the website. I also talked to a few people and read a few testimonials and it occurred to me that every single person coming to this event was coming because of someone else."
"Clearly the transplant recipients are there and alive because of somebody else, but that's only part of it. There are also living donors, donor families, transplant professionals and supporters. I think that having every person's signature is very important because it shows how every person is connected and every person has a miraculous story."
Warren, an academic advisor in the UW athletic department and also the director of Life Skills and Diversity, will participate in the 5K run on Saturday and also hopes to assist Ott during registration.
For Warren, the weekend events are representative of a personal tragedy and her ongoing support for organ donation.
"My best friend was actually killed in a motorcycle accident in May of 2009 and his two kidneys were actually given to two different people," Warren said. "The individuals (who received his kidneys) along with his family members are involved in the transplant games this year."
In addition to Madison locals Warren and Ott, the National Kidney Foundation expects the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games to draw in 7,000 participants, volunteers and supporters from all over the United States.
According to its website, the National Kidney Foundation "is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affect by these diseases and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation."
For more information on the National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games or organ donation, call the National Kidney Foundation at (866) TX-GAMES.