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LIFE Walk returns to historic Belle Isle for 25th year

Artelia Griggs and Donnie Parker wave as they finish the 5K walk
Thousands attend event celebrating life, organ and tissue donation

The annual LIFE Walk/Run drew nearly 2,500 people to Belle Isle in downtown Detroit for the event’s 25th anniversary honoring life, celebrating donor heroes and their families and promoting the Michigan Organ Donor registry.

The theme for the event, founded by the Detroit Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) Foundation, was “Together For Life.”

Mascot Hartley with the MLK Marching Band “This is about celebrating lives transformed,” said Remonia Chapman, director of Public Education and Community Relations for Gift of Life Michigan and director of Detroit MOTTEP.

She told everyone in attendance to make sure they’re registered donors: “If you haven’t already checked your heart on your license, we’re asking you to check now.”

The event was virtual in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid-19.

For its 25th year, Gift of Life MOTTEP partnered with organizations such as Michigan Humane, Ainsley’s Angels and the Department of Natural Resources. It included a 5K walk, a 5K run, and a 10K run, along with a health fair, celebration of donors and donor families, children’s activities, information about pet adoptions and more.

“We’re happy to support organizations like Gift of Life, which is doing fantastic work in the community,” said Mark Pepper, president & CEO of Michigan Humane. “The word ‘humane’ can extend itself into the lives of people. It’s not limited to animals We both honor life in all ways.”

Dorrie Dils, president and CEO of Gift of Life Michigan, agreed.

“Gift of Life’s mission is to honor life through donation, which means to honor all life, to be inclusive of all, and to compassionately support one another,” she said.

The walk/run also kicks off National Minority Donor Awareness Month in August, which highlights the need for organ and tissue donors in multicultural populations. More than half the men, women and children waiting for a life-saving organ transplant are people of color, yet people in multicultural communities are less likely to sign up as donors.

More than 100,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S. and more than 60% represent racial and ethnic minorities. In Michigan, about 2,400 people are waiting for a new organ; of those about half are of African American, Latinx or Arab American descent.

Dils said that’s another reminder for people to Check Your Heart.

“We’re asking everyone to pull out their license or state ID and look for the donor heart in the corner. If you’ve already done so, we thank you,” she said. “If you have not, we’re asking you to look inside yourself, to Check Your Heart and sign up. There’s no reason why anyone today needs to wait for a life-saving organ.”

For more information on LIFE Walk, visit detroitmottepfoundation.org.

To add your name to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry visit golm.org/register.

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