(San Ramon, CA) July 26, 2017 – This year marks the 20th anniversary of Donate Life Day, a baseball game organized by Donor Network West in partnership with three-time World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. The special game highlights the healing power of organ and tissue donation among fans of the team.
Every summer, ATT Park in San Francisco welcomes Donor Network West staff and Donate Life champions who distribute trading cards with messages about donation at the gates. Fans also have the opportunity to learn more about organ and tissue donation and to register as donors at Donor Network West’s dedicated booth, located at the ballpark’s Community Clubhouse. Since this partnership started, more than 100,000 trading cards have been given out and thousands have registered as organ and tissue donors at the ballpark.
At the July 26 home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, made possible by the Giants Community Fund, the stories of individuals whose lives have been affected by donation and transplantation will take center stage. Six-year-old Pochie Kennedy of Napa, who received a liver transplant when he was only eight months old, will open the game by yelling “play ball”. Redwood City’s 33 year heart and kidney recipient, Lizzy Craze, and 14 year liver recipient, Nick Razo, of Berkeley will serve as Balldudette and Balldude, respectively.
The national anthem will be performed by singer/songwriter and national VOICE for Donate Life America, Laura Michelle. The Bay Area native’s father had a heart transplant when she was a baby. This life-saving transplant gave Laura fourteen additional years with her father. Unfortunately, he passed away while awaiting a kidney and liver transplant during her teenage years.
“The Giants’ commitment and partnership to heal lives is unprecedented and provides hope to the thousands in need of life-saving transplants not only in our service area but across the country,” says Cindy Siljestrom, Chief Executive Officer of Donor Network West. “Every year of partnership signifies another inning, another chance, to transform the lives of many through donation. And for those who register as donors, you generously give extra innings to thousands of organ and tissue recipients.”
As a way to celebrate the vital role that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) plays in documenting the donation decisions of millions of Californians, Donor Network West has invited DMV Director, Jean Shiomoto, to the field for the pregame ceremony. Nearly all of those registered as organ and tissue donors in California sign up at the DMV when they obtain their driver’s license or ID card. The Donate Life California donor registry is the largest in the nation because of the partnership with the DMV.
The first Donate Life Day took place in 1997. Liver transplant recipient, Lori Gardner, threw the ceremonial first pitch at one of the games during the early years of the partnership. Lori is the late wife of Giant’s bullpen coach, Mark Gardner. Mr. Gardner received the Donate Life Champion award in 2013 from Donate Life America for his support and work to promote organ and tissue donation.
In addition to providing Donor Network West with the opportunity to highlight donation on the baseball field, the Giants Community Fund show their support by presenting a check to Donor Network West right before the game. The donated funds help promote donation through high school education initiatives.
“We are proud to stand hand in hand with Donor Network West, celebrating 20 years of their life-saving work through Donate Life Day. This partnership reflects the Giants’ belief in how vital it is to reach fans and the larger community about organ and tissue donation,” says Sue Petersen, Executive Director of the Giants Community Fund.
More than 10,000 people await a life-saving organ transplant in Northern California and Nevada. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people and a tissue donor can heal more than 50 others. Fans can register as donors during Donate Life Day at Donor Network West’s dedicated booth located at the Giant’s Community Club House and help highlight organ and tissue donation on social media by posting their pictures tagging @mydnwest and using the hashtag #sfgiantsdonatelife. Anyone can register as a donor at DonorNetworkWest.org or at the DMV.