The 2018 Donate Life Transplant Games of America (TGA) in Salt Lake City, Utah was an event for the record books — literally!
A new Guinness World Record was set for the largest gathering of organ recipients. That number was 540! Those 540 recipients and more (there were actually almost 1,000 recipients in attendance) expressed gratitude for their donors and donor families, who gave them the gift of life and the ability to participate in the TGA.
Team Ohio, comprised of donor families, recipients, living donors and supporters, was 133 strong in Salt Lake City! Events including the donor tribute and quilt pinning ceremony honored donors and donor families, and Olympic-style competitions from trivia to basketball and everything in between showcased the power of transplantation.
The cauldron was lit at Opening Ceremonies to officially kick off the TGA. At this event, 45 teams paraded out and waved to the huge crowd. The last group to walk out was the donor families, who received a heart-felt standing ovation.
Each day saw new competitions, events and workshops, and teammates and supporters cheered and supported each other. It was a common sight to see recipients bonding over their transplant journeys with other recipients and donor families understanding the waves of pain and joy with other donor families. Needless to say, the TGA are quite emotional for everyone.
Supporters had a blast watching recipients at their athletic events. They were inspired seeing recipients run, swim and score — none of which would be possible without the gift of life. They were giving 100% and truly living life to the fullest. Right after even the most heated competitions, the opposing teams would come together to take a picture, share their stories and congratulate each other.
Although the TGA are structured around the competitions, there is so much love for donor families, who are greeted with hugs and tears at every turn. After all, the TGA would not exist without these generous families and their loved ones who gave the ultimate gift — the gift of life.
On top of all the bonding and fun, Team Ohio was also very successful competitively, racking up 30 gold medals, 27 silver medals and 17 bronze medals! At 89 years old, Team Ohio’s Clark Beck received special recognition for being the oldest participant at the TGA. Clark received his gift of a kidney transplant 45 years ago!
There is truly nothing like the TGA. Being able to witness the amount of life, love and gratitude in one room is indescribable.