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PHOTOS: 5K Dashers brave storm in celebration of lives touched by organ and tissue donation

2022 Donor Dash 5K (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Organizers of the Donor Dash 5K were “surprised, amazed, and grateful” at the robust turnout for the annual event at the Tate Pumphouse on Saturday amid heavy, falling snow.

2022 Donor Dash 5K (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

“We were expecting maybe 50 people would come,” Ryea’ O’Neill, community relations coordinator of the Wyoming Donor Alliance, told Oil City. “We quit counting at a 110, and even had more register today. To me, that just shows the passion the people have for the cause.”

The annual Dash is a celebration of those who choose to donate organs and tissue after death. There are nearly 2,000 people in Wyoming and Colorado on waiting lists for one of the eight solid organs that can be donated, O’Neill said. The percentage of those who donate in Wyoming is 62%, the fourth highest in the nation.

2022 Donor Dash 5K (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

Before the run, Jamie Robertson spoke for her family’s bittersweet experience in donation.. Her son J.C., an avid fisherman beloved by his peers, died at the age of 17 in 2019. Three months later, “we received the most precious gift of all: to know my son’s heart recipient, to be able to hear my son’s heartbeat again,” Jamie said. The recipient was a 17-year-old Colorado boy named C.J., who also loves fishing.

C.J. was one of seven lives saved by J.C.’s donation, the Alliance said.

2022 Donor Dash 5K (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

“Our family grieves daily for J.C., but because of his donations, we are able to process his passing in a more positive way, knowing that his legacy lives on by giving life to others,” Jamie said.

There are around 1,500 people in Wyoming and Colorado on waiting lists for organ transplants, and thousands more awaiting tissue or cornea donations, O’Neil said. 

2022 Donor Dash 5K (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

Anyone of any age can sign up to become a donor, O’Neil said, even if they have high-blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

Last year, doctors were able to transplant the liver of 95-year-old West Virginia man. O’Neil added that a woman who had once been unable to donate a kidney to her husband was able to do so ten years later due to advances in medicine.

One liver can be split between two recipients.

“The science is amazing and it’s constantly changing,” O’Neil said. “We tell people, ‘Do not rule yourself out.’”

2022 Donor Dash 5K (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)
2022 Donor Dash 5K (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)
2022 Donor Dash 5K (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)
2022 Donor Dash 5K (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

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