CORE and Team Alleghenies Are Victorious at Transplant Games

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 10, 2018 – A delegation of 35 athletes representing the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) and Team Alleghenies brought home nearly 50 medals from the Transplant Games of America in Salt Lake City.

The Transplant Games of America is a multi-sport festival event that celebrates organ, tissue and cornea donation. Participants from across the United States travelled to Salt Lake City for the five-day event on August 2-7, 2018.

Notable winners include several area transplant athletes.

Heart recipient Brittany Grimm, 22, of Fairview, won three silver medals and one bronze medal in swimming as well as one bronze medal in the bean bag toss event. “I started participating in the Transplant Games right after my transplant in 2007 and have never stopped,” Ms. Grimm said. “It is amazing to be surrounded by other recipients, living donors and donor families all celebrating one thing, life. There is no better feeling then standing on the winner’s block honoring my donor.”

Heart recipient Craig Smith, 29, of Johnstown, won a bronze medal in the bean bag toss. “Being a transplant recipient and participating in the transplant games was an amazing experience,” Mr. Smith said. “It was an opportunity to not only honor my amazing donor, but to show that getting a transplant isn’t about surviving, but about truly living!”

Ezra Hildebrand, 38, of Washington, is a kidney and pancreas recipient. He earned a bronze medal in men’s doubles golf and competed in volleyball and bowling events. “Winning a medal in something that I haven’t been able to do in a couple of years was special,” said Mr. Hildebrand. “I kind of amazed myself that I was able to do it. I’m so thankful to my donor family.”

Living donor Chris Yanakos, 40, of Pittsburgh, won gold in the 400 meter and silver in the 100 meter events; his mom and recipient, Susan, won two gold medals in 5K cycling and 20K cycling events. “The Transplant Games of America is an amazing event that gives a sense of unity to the transplant community,” Mr. Yanakos said. “For me the experience of competing, myself, as a living liver donor, and watching my recipient compete, and win, is triumph, joy and humility all wrapped into one.”

Additionally, heart recipient Luke Ball, 15, of Cranberry, won three silver medals in track and field (shotput, discus and softball throw), and a bronze medal in cycling.

“The Transplant Games of America is a wonderful event that takes place every two years, and CORE was pleased to support Team Alleghenies in Salt Lake City,” said Susan Stuart, president and CEO, CORE.  “The Games allow our transplant recipients to compete in a variety of sporting events, but it is more than just a sporting event. The games highlight the critical importance of organ, tissue and cornea donation, while celebrating the lives of organ donors and transplant recipients.”

(Above left) Heart recipient Brittany Grimm, 22, of Fairview, won three silver medals and one bronze medal in swimming as well as one bronze medal in the bean bag toss event. (Above right) Heart recipient Craig Smith, 29, of Johnstown, won a bronze medal in the bean bag toss during the recent Transplant Games of America.

(Above) Ezra Hildebrand, 38, of Washington, is a kidney and pancreas recipient. He earned bronze medal in men’s doubles golf and competed in volleyball and bowling events during the recent Transplant Games of America.

(Above) Heart recipient Luke Ball, 15, of Cranberry, won three silver medals in track and field (shotput, discus and softball throw), and a bronze medal in cycling during the recent Transplant Games of America.

(Above) Living donor Chris Yanakos, 40, of Pittsburgh, won gold in the 400 meter and silver in the 100 meter events during the recent Transplant Games of America. His mom and recipient, Susan, won two gold medals in 5K cycling and 20K cycling events.

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About CORE

The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) is one of 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States. CORE works closely with donor families and designated healthcare professionals to coordinate the surgical recovery of organs, tissues and corneas for transplantation. CORE also facilitates the computerized matching of donated organs and placement of corneas. With headquarters in Pittsburgh and an office in Charleston, West Virginia, CORE oversees a region that encompasses 150 hospitals and almost six million people throughout western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County, New York. For more information, visit www.core.org or call 1-800-DONORS-7.

About The Transplant Games of America

The Transplant Games of America® is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to promote organ, eye, and tissue donation, as well as to bring awareness to the tremendous advances in the field of transplantation and in the development of immuno-suppressant drugs in the pharmaceutical industry. For more information, visit http://www.transplantgamesofamerica.org/.

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