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Running Saves Lives in Donor 5k

Jun 13, 2016 10:56AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

The Dash for Donation is a 5k fun run and 2k walk where participants could form teams to run in honor of a specific donor. – Photo Courtesy of Intermountain Donor Services

Gallery: Running Saves Lives in Donor 5k [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com


While exercise can keep you healthy, running for someone may just save a life. 

The 20th annual Dash for Donation will take place on Aug. 20 at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City and Leavitt’s Mortuary in Ogden where people can do a 5K run or a 2K walk. The fun run is designed to honor organ, eye and tissue donors and all proceeds go to Intermountain Donor Services (IDS) to promote organ and tissue donor education. 

“It’s a time we can honor those who lost their lives, but then had the courage and the love to hopefully save someone else’s life,” Chad Freckleton said. 

In 2009 Freckleton received a lifesaving liver transplant after being sick for over four years. In the time since, he and his wife have had two more children in addition to the daughter they already had. 

“I was given a second chance…if the transplant wasn’t around then I wouldn’t be here,” Freckleton said. “I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that we [Freckleton and his wife] don’t say in our prayers ‘thank you for everything we’ve been given.’” 

Freckleton and much of his family have participated in the run ever since. 

Ali Branley, a volunteer at the registration booth last year, had a son who was a tissue donor. Her son, Brayden, passed away five years ago, but doctors were able to successfully transplant two of his heart valves. 

Branley, who also raced, said the the donation process was essential to their healing process. 

“I cannot imagine anything worse than losing a child…but knowing that there were – and still are – two kids alive who may not have been given that chance because of our son, was very cathartic,” Branley said. 

Freckleton has seen both sides of the donation process. His nephew passed away a few years ago and the organs he donated saved three lives. 

“The joy that you get, both as a recipient, and when you see someone pass away – especially a family member – but when you find out they saved three lives because of organ donation, it’s just kind of a miracle thing,” Freckleton said. 

IDS played a major role in Branley’s family recovery. When Branley and her family first went to the race to support the cause, she was afraid it would be a sad event with lonely families and sick people waiting for their donors to appear. 

Instead, she discovered a family she never knew existed.

“We found a huge celebration of love, people were rallying around struggling families, everyone was there because they knew how important organ and tissue donation was,” Branley said. “Instead of tears and sadness, I found a huge extended family that no one ever wants to be a part of, but is so grateful for once they are.” 

An important aspect of the event is spreading awareness of what donors can do. Freckleton said the only time people probably think about whether to be a donor or not is at the DMV, when people renew their license every five years. 

“Many people don’t realize the extent one donor can have, it may not be a heart, or kidney, that saves your life,” Branley said. “Something as simple as a dental implant will likely need donor bone to help set it, that had to come from somewhere.” 

Even if a person has never encountered the donor or recipient experience, Freckleton and Branley said it’s important to be part of the cause whether participating in the race or simple donating. 

“You may not be a donor, or even know someone on a waiting list, but that doesn’t mean you won’t ever in you life,” Branley said. “Statistically the majority of us will end up with some relationship to this issue and it’s so important to honor those we have lost.”

“You’re helping someone out and that’s what organ donation is all about:  you’re helping people you don’t even know,” Freckleton said. 

In the end, the race is about supporting a cause that while lives come to end, it can mean other lives continue. 

“It was a humbling experience because I knew something bad happened to somebody else for me to feel something good,” Freckleton said. 

“There’s no bigger difference you can make than saving a life, and [Brayden] saved two,” Branley said. 

To find out more information or register for the event, go to www.yesutah.org.  

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