The 2010 Olympics are in the history books and the U.S. won a Winter Olympic record 37 medals in Vancouver including finishing first in overall medals for the first time in 78 years. Awesome! Way to go Team USA! And, to my favorite Olympian, Chris Klug, who did some special things in Vancouver as well, hats off to you too!
In what looks to be his final season as a competitive snowboarder and nearly 10 years after he received a life-saving liver transplant and eight years after winning a bronze medal in Salt Lake City, Klug both thrilled us with one more comeback and inspired us with one more positive message.
No, he did not make it back to the medals stand this year. But, like so many times before, Chris overcame the odds to finish seventh in this year’s Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom – higher than anyone expected. That is an incredible accomplishment for any 37-year-old snowboarder competing in their 3rd Olympics. When you add liver transplant recipient to the feat, it becomes even more amazing.
His efforts on the slopes of Vancouver showed that Chris still has the heart of a champion. So did his efforts off the slopes. In the midst of focusing his energy and mind on competing in the Olympics, Chris found time to promote organ donation. He squeezed in a visit to B.C. Transplant, a local Vancouver organ donor organization, to speak about the miracle of donation.
“I’m here today because of it, and the impact one donor can have is so significant,” he said during an interview with a British Columbia news organization, BC local news ( http://tiny.cc/KLUG). “The way I look at it is why not help someone else if I’m not here anymore?”
In a related article in the Houston Chronicle (http://tiny.cc/KLUG801 ) about taking time out to promote donation, Klug said, “I think it’s a really great opportunity for me to really trumpet that cause. (Being here) certainly highlights the heroes organ donors are and hopefully encourages people to consider it, know the facts and share that decision with their family. This is a great opportunity to get that message out there.”
Chris is a champion in every sense of the word. I tip my hat to him for not only his athletic accomplishments as a world-class snowboarder, but also for his personal accomplishments as a world class ambassador for organ donation. He may be retiring from snowboarding, but his voice will continue to educate and inspire.
Finally, like Chris, I acknowledge and thank our true heroes – those generous organ, eye and tissue donors who gave the gift of life to someone in need.
Now it’s your turn. Honor those heroes by spreading the message about how donation saves lives and sharing your decision about donation with your family.
What do you think about Chris Klug and his story? Do you have something to share about organ, eye and tissue donation? Post your comments. We would love to hear from you.