From my contact Julia at the NKF of Michigan
Grand Rapids, MI to host Transplant Games of America in 2012
“The West Michigan Sports Commission announced it will organize the Transplant Games of America. Although it is not the officially licensed U.S. Transplant Games that have been hosted by the National Kidney Foundation for the past 20 years, organizers say the event will be run in a similar manner, following the foundation's decision to not host the games in 2012.
Between 600 and 800 athletes are expected to participate, and teams are already forming online, said Mike Guswiler, director of the WMSC.
Opening ceremonies will be held July 28, 2012 and the events will run through July 31. Most or all events will be held at Grand Valley State University in Allendale Township.
Guswiler said organizers are still tweaking the final list of sports, but those being strongly considered are swimming, bowling, cycling, racquetball, table tennis, badminton, 3-on-3 basketball, golf, volleyball and traditional track and field events.
A 5K run that will be open to public participation will follow the opening ceremonies. The group is expecting to accommodate wheelchairs and athletes with other levels of disability, within reason, Guswiler said.
Participation eligibility will be determined by a local organizing committee that gets the final word, but "we'll try to follow what was done in the past," he said.
On the event's website, eligibility is listed as open to anyone, living anywhere, who has received a life-saving transplant at least six months before the games and has received a doctor's waiver to participate.
Between donor recipient athletes and their families attending the games, as well as families of those who donated organs, Guswiler estimated there could be an influx of 3,000 to 5,000 people into the area.
Organizers plan to work with downtown groups to set up accommodations packages in Grand Rapids because of a lack of rooms in Allendale. Guswiler conservatively estimated $1 million in direct spending impact on the area.
There will also be social events designed to connect donor recipients with the families of donors. Such meet-ups are a staple of the games, Guswiler said, and one of the reasons the community was up in arms over the event's cancellation.
"This is something the donor community really uses to promote organ donation," he said. "It's exciting to fulfill that need."
In May, the National Kidney Foundation announced it would not hold 2012 games, which it had done every other year in different U.S. cities since 1990.
Guswiler said the WMSC reached out to the NKF for partnership in hosting the games in Grand Rapids but the foundation declined, choosing to keep the rights to the U.S. Transplant Games trademark.”
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