Donate Life Run/Walk – April 26, 2014

4 May

The twelfth annual Donate Life Run/Walk was held on April 26, 2014 at Cal State Fullerton with more than 13,000 people celebrating the Gift of Life.  The fact that this event began with only about 1500 people (or less) in attendance and has grown into the largest of its kind in the country is positively amazing.  It has been my privilege to attend and/or work with at least 9 of those events and I continue to be inspired by how Kathleen Hostert and her mighty crew of staff members and volunteers continue to grow this event.  (Don’t forget to click on photos if you want to enlarge them)

Bob's and my first DLRW in 2005.

Bob’s and my first DLRW in 2005.

This April, I felt a bit at odds bods, sort of not feeling exactly right. It finally dawned on me that I wasn’t spending every day in April helping to prepare for the Walk…packing stuff for the various Walk areas, hauling donor family t-shirts to be counted and inventoried, speaking at several city council or county supervisor meetings and accepting proclamations proclaiming April to be Donate Life Month, amongst other little chores. Here I was in Nevada doing NV State Museum tours, working in my yard and other mundane chores.   The Walk was calling me!

I zoomed down south in time to be able to help make final packing preparations to move all the equipment, shirts, VIP bags, promotional material, ad infintum to the Cal State Fullerton campus. It used to be just a couple of truck loads of stuff taken to the campus. Now it takes many more loads to complete the task. Then…it all has to be sorted out and set up in the various areas. (Kathleen has devised systems to make that easier, but it’s still time consuming)   To complicate things this year, there was a threat of rain which did actually materialize during the night. The actual Walk day dawned with glorious sun.  A great day

Sorting donor family t shirts into their proper boxes

Sorting donor family t shirts into their proper boxes. There are thousands of shirts that are put into these boxes. Each shirt has a picture of the family’s loved one on the back.

Getting ready to load those boxes onto the truck

Getting ready to load those boxes onto the truck. They will be claimed in the morning by the donor families who proudly wear their shirts on the Walk.

Meanwhile, activities continue in the office portion of the Placentia Office of One Legacy/Donate Life.  Lists are being finalized, stuff is still being packed, sheets are being laminated and the list goes on and on.

Iva and her endless lists.  She keeps track of EVERYTHING!

Iva and her endless lists. She keeps track of EVERYTHING!

The Nut House (or Kathleen's office)

The Nut House (or Kathleen’s office)

Where I've worked for the past several years.  It's fun to meet the VIPs and their families and sometimes it's a bit hectic

Where I’ve worked for the past several years. It’s fun to meet the VIPs and their families and sometimes it’s hectic when someone thinks they are a VIP and aren’t.

Promoting the social media aspect of Donate Life to increase awareness of the cause.  Just point your smart phone and click.  Doesn't work on my phone, though.  I have a dumb phone.

Promoting the social media aspect of Donate Life to increase awareness of the cause. Just point your smart phone and click. Doesn’t work on my phone, though. I have a dumb phone.

Some of the contributing sponsors, of which i was one

Some of the contributing sponsors, of which I was one

One of the necessary evils of an event like this with SOOOO many people is the trash detail (and also the port-potty issue, but we won’t go into that.  Ick!).  Dave Hollon and his son, Michael, have worked on this area for many years and have it down to a pretty good science.  The fact remains though, that he has to line all of these cardboard “cans” and distribute them around the campus.  Then someone has to empty them when they are full.  It’s a continuous task to keep all of this trash from overflowing and looking awful.  Dave and Michael do a great job and makes it look pretty easy but I wouldn’t trade jobs with them.

Dave Hollon and his "cans" Can he or can't he?

Dave Hollon and his “cans”
Can he or can’t he?

Monica Ramirez took my place as chairperson of the VIP Check-in area.  She also does many tasks at the office…a gal of all trades.

Monica waiting for her first VIP to check in.  Do you think she's practicing her welcome smile?

Monica waiting for her first VIP to check in. Do you think she’s practicing her welcome smile?

Checking in the VIPs.  Sharyn Miller is the helper.

Checking in the VIPs. Sharyn Miller is the helper.

Nicole Hostert greeting the crowd with her family around her.

Nicole Hostert greeting the crowd with her family around her.

Donor families releasing doves.  It's always an inspirational portion of the program, especially when you know someof the donor families and/or have been directly affected by donation.

Donor families releasing doves. It’s always an inspirational portion of the program, especially when you know some of the donor families and/or have been directly affected by donation.

 

After the release of the doves, the Walk is just about ready to begin.  Just a couple of more things to do…the National Anthem and the countdown.  This year, Emily Reisling, daughter of good friends and a sophomore at La Habra High, sang the Anthem.  She was terrific!  People actually stopped talking, listened and acted respectfully.

Emily Reisling

Emily Reisling

A small portion of Emily's audience at the starting line

A small portion of Emily’s audience at the starting line

And they're off!!!

And they’re off!!!

A very inspirational portion of the Walk is the Circle of Garden, an area where posters are hung to honor loved ones who were donors, are living donors, are waiting for a transplant or perhaps who have passed waiting for a transplant.  It’s supposed to be a sort of reverential place but with 13,000 people, it’s difficult to have total quiet.  But I like to go into the Garden to see all the people looking at the posters and to see Bob’s poster.  This year, I chose a picture with the two of us in Delft, Holland with the caption, “We enjoyed the Gift of Life.”  This gift from Tim Baptista’s family allowed us to travel near and far and allowed Bob to be best man at our nephew, Michael’s wedding to Floor in 2008. Bob was so pleased that he got to do that.

Bob's sign in the Garden before it was hung up in place

Bob’s sign in the Garden before it was hung up in place

The Walk and ensuing Family Festival activities ended about noon and I was on the road back to Nevada around 1 PM. It was a short visit and I apologize to the many friends I didn’t get to visit.  It’s just that now there were several obligations up north that I had to keep.

Here is a little addendum to this blog portion. As most of you know, I have a bird feeder in the back yard that attracts several species of birds and sometimes critters such as ground squirrels and little chipmunk type animals. This week, yellow-headed black birds graced the feeder along with their cousins, red-winged blackbirds.  Sorry the picture isn’t bigger, but one can only crop a shot so much.   I like these birds as they don’t seem to be afraid and don’t fly away if I’m working in the backyard.

Yellow-headed blackbirds

Yellow-headed blackbirds (Click on it and it’ll get bigger)

 

 

 

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