Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TRI for Life

Back in March, I was in Tennessee for my little brother’s wedding. At that time, I had already completed all my testing for the kidney donation. But aside from having made the decision to donate my kidney, I don’t know how much I talked about it then, or really even thought about it – my biggest issues was how to get my six hour brick done that Sunday after flying home, as Ironman loomed on the horizon.

Ha – it was Ironman all the time, at that point.

Back then, it was like, “Okay get through the race, then donate the kidney. A before B.”

It really hasn’t been until recently that I have these moments when I think, “Holy crap – I did that.” Like when I see a tv show about people donating organs. And then I get all teary and emotional and boogery and slobbery and – well, nevermind.

Lemme get back to my story.

The day I arrived in Tennessee, my brother-in-law Nat handed me an article in the USA Today – it was about the three Coleman brothers who had lost their fourth brother, Chase. Chase was an avid cyclist and 20 years old when he was killed after being struck by a car while riding. Following his death, his organs were donated to various individuals. One individual received his heart – this man continues to live and prosper today.

I remember reading the story and having tears in my eyes for the loss these brothers sustained – if I ever lost one of my siblings, it might just be what kills me – I simply could not imagine it.

And even though I was going through my own organ donation issues at the time, I had kept the significance of my own donation at arm’s length – it was simply too much for me to emotionally deal with as I stared down Ironman. So I didn’t fully wrap my mind around the piece of the story where Chase’s brothers have reached out to the organ recipients, and have formed a triathlon club called TRI for Life, in memory of their brother and in support of organ donation. They have made it their mission to compete in all 50 states through triathlon, and raise public consciousness for organ donation while doing it.

I kept the article tucked in my bag, though, and reread it at the airport while waiting for my flight home.

Fast forward to my own donation – while in the hospital, a man commented on my blog – he mentioned that he had an experience with organ donation, and encouraged me to check out his site TRI for Life. His name: Lon Coleman.

Lon is one of the three surviving brothers (from that article) who now races to raise awareness of organ donation. While laying in my bed shortly after my own donation surgery, feeling miserable and sorry for myself, Lon hit me up on Instant Messenger. We chatted for some time, and he told me about all the things that are happening for his team.

It’s amazing all the things these brothers are involved in, including the US Transplant Game this summer.

He mentioned that he would be in Chicago for the Chicago Accenture Tri this weekend, and we talked about maybe crossing paths while he is town. Though I consider myself to be the unofficial ambassador of Chicago (we all know how I do love to be the tour guide!), I unfortunately will be in Rockford all day when they come in on Friday. But hopefully I will get a chance to have dinner with the team the Saturday before the race.

So check out their site and their story if you can. And if you are near or at the race here on Sunday, cheer them on – they are out there racing for second chances at life.

And if that's not something to scream about, I don't know what is.


momo said...

meg!! seriously, this is way too cool! i love it. and girl, what you did was no walk in the park - you gave part of your BODY. your body!!! i just think about it and get all teary eyed at how incredible it was. you deserve a medal for that. or two. :-)

Borsch said...

That is an awesome tri club! Truly an inspiration!

Tiger Lily said...

Thanks for sharing!

You really are an amazing person.

The Young Family said...

I will look them up! What a wonderful way to spread the word on donating organs.

This is where you now get to hear about me: My cousin needed a bone marrow donor a few years past ~ no one in the family matched (and we are a big Irish family!) it was of course due to his fight that I learned the importance of donating organs. People think it will never happen to them... our family has been through house burning down, a stroke, a heart attack, daughter born iwth tumors not able to breathe, this is just my hubby and I and our daughter... let alone the extended family! (lymphoma, kidney cancer, ovarian cancer) to name a few... I tell you that to remind anyone reading this, that it can happen to you. Sign the donor card, let people know you want to donate, god forbid something happens to you. Hey after all we have been through I can still smile, after all we are still here and are alive, making the most out of it!!


I know I'm all serious on ya today!

Lon Coleman said...

Yep... its me again...Thanks for the compliments Meg and to everyone that commented. From our point of view, we get just as much out of it. My brother is still talked about and is the focus of national magazine articles 5 years after his accident. There is so much more to the story... we will have the entire family, 4 members of the team and Terry, the guy that received my brothers heart in Chicago tomorrow. Check us out and spread the word... Thanks again.

Liz said...

What a great way to start my day. Thanks!

Prin said...

Yey! Who knew you'd propel yourself into an elite organ-donatey tri club?

How awesome in so many ways. :)

stronger said...

'Bout time you gave yourself a little credit girly-girl.

Hope to see your photo and bio on their "team" section one day!

Flatman said...

Very cool, Megan! You are the coolest for being a donor...

Have a great race, Lon!

Tri-Angle said...

I have no words Meg
you are a hero.

Rockford?.....what a dump
The nut and bolt capital of the world...
That's where I used to have to take my dates in High School because we had no movie theatre in my teeny tiny town.

Scott said...

Just stumbled across your blog, but this is such a great post and it's great to learn of your own tie to the issue Meg. The TRI for LIFE brothers are certainly out accomplishing an amazing feat, great to have them in Chicago this weekend.

A quick reminder to all Illinois residents to be sure you've re-registered after Jan. 1, 2006 to join the state's new registry and ensure your wishes as a donor are honored!

You can quickly do so over at www.DonateLifeIllinois.org. If you're from out of state, you can find out how to register to be an organ donor in your own state at www.ShareYourLife.org.

Donate Life Illinois - Campaign Manager