The Transplant Games of America begin Friday in San Diego to honor the legacy of donors who gave the gift of life, while highlighting the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation.
Nearly 40 national teams from across the country will join international teams from Brazil, Colombia and Australia to compete in 20 sports as part of the six-day event, through Wednesday at the San Diego Convention Center and other sites in the region.
Sports San Diego and the SDCCU Holiday Bowl secured the bid for San Diego to host the 2022 Games, produced by the Transplant Life Foundation.
“Bringing the Transplant Games to San Diego was a goal that we’ve had for a number of years. We are honored and proud to be hosting this amazing event in our community,” said Mark Neville, CEO of Sports San Diego and the SDCCU Holiday Bowl. “This event is another example of how the San Diego community is ready and willing to support great causes and missions that actually save lives.”
Along with the athletic competitions – from golf and bowling to track and volleyball – the Transplant Games features nearly 50 special events, including a downtown parade at 9 a.m. Saturday, sponsored by Rady Children’s Hospital.
Aside from marching bands, balloons and floats, grand marshals include organ recipients – actor Jason Gray-Stanford (heart transplant) and San Diegan John Brockington (kidney transplant), a former Green Bay Packer.
“As a kidney and bone marrow donor,” Neville said, “I know we need to get creative to find ways to generate exposure for the need to secure more donors. The parade is going to help and it’s going to be a great time for all.”
Bill Ryan, president and CEO of the Transplant Life Foundation noted that the U.S. continues to lead the world with record-setting numbers of transplants – last year alone, nationally, there were more than 40,000 organ transplants, a new record.
He said the games, a 32-year tradition, “is thrilled to be in San Diego this summer and partnering with the San Diego community.”
While events will be spread around the region, most will take place at the convention center and UC San Diego. The game village, also at the convention center, will be open to the public.