If you missed us at the Donate Life event, you can still share in our birthday blog celebration – we’ve got some great low sodium giveaways running on the blog throughout the month.
Grown from and supported by a lot of love, Craig and Kathleen Hostert and the team at Donate Life OC spend a good part of the year planning and organizing this special celebration of life. After spending nearly two and a half years on dialysis, in June, 1998, Kathleen and Craig underwent a live kidney donation/transplant. Kathleen volunteered her kidney, Craig was the recipient: Craig’s siblings had been tested to be potential donors, but had been ruled out. Through the donor matching process, they discovered that many husband/wife teams are a feasible organ donation/recipient match.
The Hosterts founded the Fullerton walk the following year. They wanted to give other folks waiting on the transplant list hope; for those in the queue, the process can be a long and tenuous one. They had experienced the emotional roller coaster themselves. They wanted to help get more people inspired to sign up and donate. They wanted to help save lives.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of the annual walk, with over 11,000 people onsite. The Donate Life Run/Walk in Fullerton is now one of the largest events in the country, helping to spread the news about organ and tissue donation and transplants. It has turned into a celebration of life. Many attendees and vendors alike share, or are touched by, the experience of organ transplant: a common bond ties the transplant community together.
For us, helping to support the Donate Life event has a very special meaning. My mom is a kidney transplant recipient – her sister Rosalie was her live kidney donor (it was one of the events that led us to start eating low sodium/blog). So this year, being our second to participate in and give back to the transplant community, we timed my mom’s visit to coincide with Craig and Kathleen’s Donate Life Run/Walk.
We made some calls and rounded up some sponsors (our friends) to donate low sodium goodies; we spent several days running round like chickens without their heads on, picking up and sorting through an entire living room filled with products, photographing it all, assembling over 400 “spin and win” low-sodium food/product packets and a decent number of gift baskets; and packing our car to the brim. For several days leading up to the event, we lived on 3 hours of sleep each day; getting up at 4 am yesterday morning to head out to the event. Our experience was a common one; shared by many of the other hard working volunteers (we heard that there were ~ 700 volunteers in various capacities). We talked to many people who had come out, bright and early at ~ 6am, living on fumes. For all of us, putting in a little elbow grease was all worth it – seeing so many happy faces celebrating life.
On a personal note, we want to thank our co-sponsors ; they really pitched in and helped us create a fun booth at the event. Being that we were placed in the “vendor” category, I think it was a difficult thing for many people to grasp that we weren’t a food market, we weren’t selling anything (except as someone shared with us, we are “selling the message of eating healthy”), we didn’t want anything, the raffle and the spin was free, and we gave away almost everything in our booth (except for the stuff we took home, like the spin wheel). I can’t tell you what an amazing feeling it is to be left standing at the end of the event, with an entirely “empty” booth and meeting a lot of happy people. Thanks to everyone at Donate Life for putting together a really wonderful event.