NJ Sharing Network, the non-profit organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents awaiting lifesaving transplants, celebrates the 10th anniversary of its 5K Celebration of Life events that have been held in multiple locations in New Jersey.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NJ Sharing Network has changed its Long Branch 5K event to an online Virtual 5K that will stream live from 10-11:30 a.m. on May 17 at NJSharingNetwork.org/5K.
The event is presented by Hackensack Meridian Health and supported by dozens of sponsors.
The inspiring live and interactive program will include special acknowledgement of teams, participants and sponsors, and the ability to post live on-screen comments. Participants are encouraged to walk or run their own 5K route in their own neighborhoods following the live program and share updates, images and videos with NJ Sharing Network on social media. For more information or to sign up, visit NJSharingNetwork.org/5K.
A Hillsborough man will be remembered his weekend during the virtual 5K. Team Kidney Beans was created in honor of two-time kidney recipient Grover “Chip” Lazar. Chip suffered from lupus, and received his first living kidney donor transplant but after 10 years, it failed. His daughter and 5K Team Captain Jenny became his second living donor on Nov. 6, 2013. Unfortunately. Chip passed away on Sept. 17, 2015. He participated in a past NJ Sharing Network 5K but now his team walks in his memory.
“Clearly, we all wish that we could come together in person, but nothing will stop us from celebrating the gift of life,” said Chris Bautista, chair of the Virtual 5K and captain of Team Luke, the team created in memory of Chris’ son Luke David Bautista, who passed away at age 15, but was able to donate his heart, both kidneys, liver and pancreas to save the lives of five people. “Our Virtual 5K will be a special way to honor those who gave, pay tribute to those who received, offer hope to those who continue to wait and remember the lives lost while waiting for the gift of life. Our virtual platform will also allow us to connect and share our message throughout New Jersey and beyond.”
This year marks the 10th anniversary of NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Celebration of Life events, which first began with an event in 2011 at NJ Sharing Network in New Providence.
“Ten years ago, we could not have imagined the incredible impact that our 5K Celebration of Life events would have on the donation community,” said Elisse E. Glennon, vice president and chief administrative officer of NJ Sharing Network. “Since its inception, more than $8 million has been raised to increase the number of lives saved through innovative transplant research, family support, public awareness and education about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. We plan to keep going until we ensure that everyone who needs a life-saving transplant gets one. We thank all the families, friends, volunteers and sponsors who have participated every year – especially those that will join us virtually in May.”
In addition to the Long Branch Virtual 5K, NJ Sharing Network will hold its New Providence 5K Celebration of Life on Sept. 13 at its headquarters. This event will be a 5K Walk & USATF Certified Race.
In 2019, 1,400 donors gave the gift of life and the number of organ donors surpassed 200 for the first time in New Jersey – 206 individuals saved lives through donation, resulting in 601 organs transplanted. An additional 1,139 donors helped heal and enhance the quality of life of those in need of tissue and eye transplants while 173 individuals made the decision to give life as living kidney donors.
Today, there are nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents awaiting a lifesaving transplant. Every day, approximately three people are added to the New Jersey waiting list. One organ donor can save eight lives and one tissue donor can restore health to over 75 people.
New Jersey residents can register as organ and tissue donors, learn how to have a conversation with family and friends, and get involved at NJSharingNetwork.org.