Why I walk: Raising organ donor awareness

Gift of Life Michigan logo

Are you looking for charity walks near you? MOTTEP’s LIFE Walk/Run raises awareness of organ donation. Read inspirational stories about why people walk here.

ANN ARBOR, MI—The 20th annual LIFE Walk/Run, hosted by Gift of Life MOTTEP (Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program), is a celebration of life. The event helps raise awareness of organ donation and brings together people who have received organ, tissue and cornea transplants with those who have given the gifts. Hundreds of donor family members, living donors, recipients, caregivers and other supporters will share in the joys of living life and giving life.

In 1997, a group of passionate MOTTEP volunteers created a new walk event in Detroit to engage with community members, promote healthy living, and raise awareness about the need for more organ, tissue and eye donors. The event has grown continuously over the past two decades, but continues to serve as an important community gathering to save and heal lives.

Mustafa Sharafi Runs to Honor His Donor

One life that has been saved by organ donation is that of Mustafa Sharafi, of Shelby Township. Born with a metabolic disorder which quickly led to severe liver disease, Mustafa received a life-saving liver transplant when he was just three months old! Mustafa was the world’s youngest liver transplant recipient at the time. Sadly, Mustafa’s older sister had the same disease and was not able to receive a liver transplant, and she did not survive. Mustafa feels very blessed to have received the gift of life.

As a way of honoring his donor and staying healthy, Mustafa likes to stay physically active. One activity he’s enjoyed for as long as he can remember is running.

On July 29 Mustafa will be running the 5K race around Belle Isle State Park as part of the LIFE Walk/Run. This will be Mustafa’s first time running in the LIFE Walk/Run – last year he volunteered at the event as a run/course marshal.

Carrie Pratt Walks to Honor Her Mother

Carrie Pratt will be both volunteering and walking the 5K at LIFE Walk/Run on July 29 in honor of her mother, Janice Reaume, who became an organ, tissue and eye donor upon her death on Mother’s Day in 2014.

Janice never thought she’d be able to donate her organs because of a complicated medical history. Upon her death from a brain aneurysm, Janice’s children learned that her health challenges weren’t necessarily an obstacle. Janice was able to donate two kidneys, her corneas and other tissues. Thanks to that generous decision, two people are able to see again, two people were able to stop dialysis treatments, and many others have an improved quality of life.

Carrie started volunteering with Gift of Life Michigan just weeks after her mother’s donation, and continues to educate and inspire people to sign up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

Aimee Cruz Volunteers to Honor Her Donors

Aimee Cruz of Ann Arbor will also be at LIFE Walk, along with her family and friends, as she has been almost every year for the past decade. Aimee has received three liver transplants over the past 25 years, and volunteers at LIFE Walk as a way to honor her donors. Although unable to walk or run the 5K due to health challenges, Aimee is proud to assist the event as a volunteer while her family and friends walk the 5K in honor of Aimee and her donors.

Join the LIFE Walk/Run

LIFE Walk/Run will be held on July 29, 2017 at the casino building (not a gambling establishment) on Belle Isle in Detroit. Registration begins at 7 a.m., the 5K and 10K runs at 8:00 a.m., and the 5K walk at 8:30 a.m.. A short and free Kids Fun Run begins at 10:30 a.m.

Discounted online registration fees are $30 for walkers and $35 for runners at www.motteplifewalk.org. Event day registration is $35 for both.

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of LIFE Walk/Run, the café will feature a Taste of Detroit foods. A variety of organizations will host information tables, and free health screenings will be held inside the casino building. Massages will be available after the walk/run. Children are welcome to create arts and crafts in the Kids Korner activity tent. All food and amenities are free for registered participants.

Join the Organ Donor Registry

Show your support for organ, tissue and eye donation today by joining the Michigan Organ Donor Registry at giftoflifemichigan.org or by calling 866-500-5801. Those who register with a Michigan license or ID card will receive a red heart donor symbol for the front of their card. Anyone can register, regardless of age or medical history.

As the state’s federally designated organ and tissue recovery organization, Gift of Life Michigan acts as intermediary between donors, their families and hospital staff. Gift of Life, in collaboration with Eversight, provides all services necessary for organ, tissue and eye donation.

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Editor’s Note: Photos of Mustafa Sharifi and Aimee Cruz are available upon request.

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