Chris Klug, professional snowboarder and liver transplant recipient headed to Olympics – again!

The 2010 Winter Olympics are just a few weeks away and I am “psyched” for the Games to begin, I can’t wait to watch the action. You may think I am one of those ultra proud Americans, an Olympic junkie, a fanatic. Not true. Actually, over the years, I have become rather disinterested with the Olympics.

That is until this year! Why? Things changed for me because of Chris Klug.

Before I tell you how Chris Klug changed how I feel about the Olympics, let me first congratulate him on making the 2010 Olympic team. Way to go Chris!! Eight years after winning a bronze medal in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Chris is headed back to the Olympics. During a recent interview with the Associated Press about making the U.S. Olympic team, Chris said, “I’m really proud to have overcome some of the challenges.” He added, “For selfish reasons, I’m stoked to go back and have a chance to vie for another medal. But it also provides me such an amazing platform, a way to get the word out there about donor awareness. It’s a big part of it, and what better stage than the ultimate winter sports arena, the Olympics?” He made the U.S. Olympic Snowboarding team with an eighth−place finish in a World Cup event 2 weekends ago.

Chris Klug (in blue blazer) with LLF volunteers

Ok, how did Chris Klug renew my excitement for the Olympics? Here is what happened. Last June, LLF held a volunteer luncheon and we were honored to have Chris Klug come and share his amazing story with us about his life including his liver transplant just 19 months prior to winning the bronze medal in the 2002 Olympics. His story, as amazing as it was to hear, was not what I will remember most about that day.

 

Chris, after the luncheon signing his book, "To the Edge and Back"

What was most memorable was I found out Chris Klug was not just a great snowboarder, he was a terrific person too. Before the luncheon began, I gave Chris a tour of the LLF facilities. As we walked and talked, he asked me more questions than I asked him. He wanted to know about my kids, my family and the work we do at LLF. He seemed genuinely interested in things besides himself. To say he was refreshing and grounded would be an understatement.

Chris being silly with "Little Organ Annie" during the office tour

I decided right then and there I liked Chris Klug. He told me candidly how he loves to compete, that he is extremely grateful for the gift of life he received and is humbled to have the opportunity to be a voice for donation. After the luncheon as he was leaving, and hours after he and I had talked, he told me take good care of Josh and Gracie (my two kids whom he saw pictures of in my office during his office tour) and he wished them the best. I could feel his sincerity. He may be an Olympic star, but his genuineness is what I will never forget.

 He cares about people and he uses his fame to serve others not just himself. For that reason, the Olympics are exciting for me again and I’m going to cheer him on like a crazy. I hope Chris wins the gold. But it doesn’t really matter what place he finishes. He is already a winner in my book. 

-Jim

To read the full AP story about Chris Klug referred to in this blog, go to: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/O/OLY_SBD_US_SNOWBOARDING_TEAM?SITE=NYONE&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

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