Sports

Park City athletes use April’s National Donate for Life Month as perfect time to train for the Transplant Games

PARK CITY, Utah — In July, Alabama will host teams from all 50 states and several countries in the Transplant Games, the world’s largest celebration of life for organ donors and recipients.

Park City’s Laura Diaz-Moore has just wrapped up another year working at Park City Mountain. The kidney and liver live donor will compete in swimming at the Transplant Games. She’s also participating in the making of the documentary film Abundant, which is set for release this summer and will be submitted to Film Festivals.

Michelle McCardell is the Manager of the Mountain West Team. She’s not a transplant recipient or living donor but educates transplant recipients on insurance, fundraising, etc., and she’s a registered organ donor.

McCardell has been the Manager of Team Mountain West since 2015. This will be her fifth Transplant Games event.

Team Mountain West currently has 27 people registered to attend the Transplant Games this year, but they expect to have closer to 35 before registration closes. Beyond Laura Diaz Moore, Team Mountain West includes Joe Frazier, a liver recipient who has participated in nine Transplant Games. There’s also a male kidney recipient and a female heart recipient.

Team Mountain West is one of 40 teams from the United States, and there are also teams from other countries, including Australia, India, Brazil, and Puerto Rico, that have participated in previous years. Mexico, Canada, and Great Britain may also have representatives this year.

McCardell told TownLift, “Our team is smaller than most and this is primarily due to cost. Airfare, hotel rooms, and uniform fees are expensive, and we do everything we can to help financially with our team, but it’s still a financial burden on a lot of our Veterans and pediatric participants, as the Veterans are typically on a fixed income and our pediatric athletes can’t come without a parent. If anyone would like to make a donation to the team, we will gladly accept it. Donations can be accepted through DonorConnect at  https://www.donorconnect.life/contribute/.”

“Think of the Transplant Games as the Olympics for transplant patients.” McCardell said. “There is pin trading, cheering, and amazing stories.”

Any living transplant donors or transplant recipients from Summit County can still register for the Transplant Games at www.transplantgamesofamerica.org or by emailing teammountainwest@gmail.com.

“The Transplant Games take place every other year and are truly the most inspirational event that I have ever witnessed. Every single person in attendance has a story about life; they are transplant recipients, living organ donors, and family members of deceased donors. Opening Ceremonies, the Donor Tribute, and witnessing a donor family member placing a medal around the neck of a double lung transplant recipient who just won a swimming competition after spending most of their life living on an oxygen tank is absolutely spectacular,” said McCordell.

Events on offer will include tennis, track and field, cornhole, golf, pickleball, Texas Hold ’em poker, trivia challenge, darts, bowling, ballroom dancing, basketball, and volleyball.

Click here to register as a donor in Utah via the United States Government with the nonprofit Donor Connect.

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