For the fourth consecutive year, Palo Alto-based Organs ‘R’ Us and corporate sponsor Providian Financial will team up to relay the word on the importance of organ transplant donation. The Providian Relay () is considered California’s longest party. Racers traverse 199 miles of some of the most beautiful and challenging terrain in California, beginning in the Wine Country of Calistoga, and ending at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Relay participants come from around the world, with many running to save the life of a friend or a family member who is waiting for an organ transplant. The Relay takes place this Saturday and Sunday, October 19-20, 2002.
What You Should Know About Organ Donation
— More than 80,000 Americans are on a waiting list for a life-saving transplant
— Each day, it’s estimated that approximately 17 people will die while waiting for an organ, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing
— A single donor can save from five to seven lives
“The Providian Relay is a great opportunity to help generate awareness for organ donation — an issue of national and critical importance,” said Providian Corporate Affairs Senior Vice President, Jim Wunderman. “This is the fourth consecutive year that we have sponsored this race and the fourth year that I have run with a Providian team. The enthusiasm of our employees, whether running or volunteering at the race, is stronger than ever”.
Racing to Save Lives
Runners on 12-member teams each run three relay legs, averaging five miles per leg. They run day and night, with the light of the autumn sun and the full moon guiding them through 36 cities and seven counties until they reach the finish line at the beach in Santa Cruz. The transfer of a “baton” from runner to runner at designated exchange points symbolizes the transfer of an organ from donor to recipient.
Many of the teams have a personal mission — to run in support of a friend, a colleague or a family member. The “Miranda’s Miles” relay team is running for Miranda Ashland, an 8-year-old who received a new liver when she was 6 months old. Miranda will greet her team at the finish line.
Team captain of the “San Francisco Frontrunners,” Wilmer Pereira, age 28, will not be running this year because he underwent a successful kidney transplant on September 25, 2002. Wilmer, who ran in the 1999 New York Marathon, will proudly welcome his team in Santa Cruz on Sunday.
“Team Dean,” represented by one-man wonder, Dean Karnazes, dedicates his fifth consecutive solo 199-mile run to 6-month-old David Mehran, who is in dire need of a liver transplant.
“This year, the organ donation message is even more urgent because of David Mehran’s desperate need for a new liver,” said Organs ‘R’ Us Director Jeff Shapiro. “Normally, our focus would be on the 4,000 participants who are running or volunteering at the Relay. This year, our attention is squarely on Dean Karnazes and his solo race to help David get the transplant he urgently needs,” Shapiro said.
Each year the Relay is dedicated to men and women and boys and girls who either had been an organ recipient or were on a waiting list. This year’s Providian Relay is dedicated to Nicholas Green, whose parents donated his organs in 1994 after he was killed while on vacation in Italy. Their decision to donate Nicholas’ organs saved the lives of seven people waiting for transplants. September 29, 2002 marked the eighth anniversary of Nicholas’ death. The transplant recipients are all alive and well today, thanks to “Nicholas’ Gift,” which is the name of a book written by the boy’s father Reg Green.
About Organs ‘R’ Us
Organs ‘R’ Us, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation, was founded in San Francisco in 1996 and provides support to transplant recipients, transplant candidates, family members and friends by promoting organ donation through athletics. Through walking and running, this group showcases their fitness proving that organ transplantation saves lives.
About Providian Financial
San Francisco-based Providian Financial is a leading provider of credit cards and deposit products to customers throughout the U.S. One of America’s largest bankcard issuers, Providian has approximately $20 billion in managed receivables and 13 million customer accounts.
Given the importance of organ donation, Providian has made awareness of this issue a part of the Company’s Providian Cares community giving program, which awards grants each year to worthy organizations around the nation, in communities where the Company’s employees live and work.