NOTE: Story and picture submitted by Randy Sims with permission to place it on this website.
Transplant Games Experience
By: Randy Sims
This year, 2002, was the second Transplant Games event I attended. Year 2000 was the first, held in June; this was just a little over a year out from my double lung transplant. I arrived with my family the first year. It was a tremendous experience. Our first flavor of what was in store was the opening ceremonies. They were held at the baseball stadium at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, the last two times the events have been at Disney in Florida.
There were hundreds of athletes from all over the US marching in to take their seats for the opening ceremonies. Then, once we were seated, all of the donor family member representatives came in; there was a 20-minute standing ovation. What a moving tribute. The athletes, all donor recipients, standing and applauding those who have made decisions to give the gift of life and allow us to be there. A very emotional and beautiful scene.
The opening ceremonies included several speakers, music, fire works, a release of white doves to fly over the stadium, and of course, the lighting of the torch.
Then, the next three days were filled with the events. The first year I competed in racquetball and 3 on 3 basketball. This year, I competed again in 3 on 3 basketball, and also golf and table tennis. There are about 20 events in all to choose from.
Once the events were finished on Saturday, the closing ceremonies took place. Again, a great show.
I wasn’t sure how this year, 2002, would compare to the first year I attended. I thought maybe the newness would kind of wear off and it would not be as special. But I was wrong. I got just as much, if not more excitement and thrill from the 2002 games and ceremonies as I did in 2000. This year was even more special because my wife of just 6 months was there, also her family, and my brother and his wife came also. My parents, who have been my main support over the last 36 years, were also there again. It’s great for them to be able to see me compete in sports again, especially when there has been a lot of times that they have seen me not able to do much more than just sit in a chair connected to oxygen (pre-transplant days).
I guess to sum this up, it is four days filled with meeting strong, courageous people from around the country and celebrating the miracles that we have all been a part of. Drawing from each other’s strength and understanding better how to deal with life’s challenges. The days and nights are filled with sporting events, parties, seminars, ceremonies, food, and fun. There is always something to do for everyone.
To me it’s also a time to reflect on the love I have for my family and to remember how important my faith in God is. And of course, pay special tribute to all donors and their families.
The games will always be a special part of my life. They take place every two years, and I definitely plan to keep attending.
Double Lung Transplant 04/09/99 Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, MO Cystic Fibrosis