By Edward Drake, kidney recipient
Having received a life-saving kidney in 2008, I know what it feels like to be humbled by another’s generosity. I had that same feeling in December when I flew to Aspen, CO to take part in the Aspen Summit for Life event where I received the Chris Klug Foundation’s (CKF) Bounce Back award.
The Aspen Summit for Life event was created by Chris Klug, an Olympic-Bronze snow-boarding medalist and liver recipient. Founded in 2003, CKF is dedicated to promoting lifesaving donation and improving the quality of life for donors, donor families, organ transplant candidates and recipients.
Through this event he presents the Bounce Back Award – recognizing two organ transplant recipients who exhibit a great quality of life. I was privileged to receive the award, along with Lea Sobieraski, a liver recipient.
My entire experience in Aspen was awesome! I was blessed to have close family and friends take this journey with me. When we landed at the airport I had to take a moment to thank God for this blessing. I can vividly remember those dark, lonely days staring at the four walls in the dialysis center – I was nowhere near there now!
While in Aspen, I had the opportunity to go skiing for the first time (it’s a lot harder than it looks!), I saw the view from the top of a mountain that left me speechless and I was able to forge a friendship with Chris. I was truly inspired by him – our personalities connected. We’re both former athletes with very positive outlooks on life. Most people thought we had known each other for years by our conversations and genuine care for one another! It was a true privilege to see all that he is doing to further donation in Colorado and around the United States.
The Aspen Summit for Life event was incredible. More than 500 racers hiked up thousands feet to the top of Aspen mountain at night in freezing temperatures to promote the importance message of organ, eye and tissue donation. I have never seen anything like it in my life!
At the top of the mountain was where the awards ceremony was held. I was able to share my experience as a transplant recipient and to give thanks to my donor, Lianne. I strive every day to make her proud of the gift she has given me. I vowed to her family when I wrote that I will take this second chance at life to help impact others.
Winning this award validates what I am doing through the YNOTT? Foundation and what the Lord called me to do – impacting lives in the community by spreading awareness on organ, eye and tissue donation. I am deeply thankful to Chris, his foundation and, of course, my donor Lianne.