NORTH FORK – Local hero Jill Nolen, 25, returned triumphantly from the 2014 Transplant Games of America in Houston, holding a dozen medals and hoping to make the world more aware of the unlimited possibilities that go along with giving and receiving the gift of life.
The recent Cal State Fresno grad went to Houston to compete as one of more than 60 members of Team NorCal. Traveling with Jill were her parents, Judy and Mike Nolen.
The Transplant Games is a multi-sport event for individuals who are organ transplant recipients, living donors, bone marrow and other transplant recipients.
More than 25 years ago, in 1989, Jill was on a waiting list because she desperately needed a new liver before she was even six months old. After the first transplant she received failed, baby Jill received a second liver transplant with great success. With an active life including loads of gymnastics, Jill is now in the “quarter century club” of transplant recipients.
This was Jill’s third time competing in the Transplant Games of America, which run every two years. Medaling events include a 5K run, badminton, ballroom dancing, basketball, bowling, cycling, darts, golf, poker, racquetball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, track & field, trivia challenge, virtual triathlon and volleyball.
In Houston this year, Jill won 9 gold medals, 2 silver and 1 bronze, all in track & field and swimming. More than 3,000 people attended the competition to celebrate organ and tissue donation and honor those, living and deceased, who have given the gift of life.
The best part of the games, said Jill, was “celebrating life by competing in honor of her donor and being with friends who have been through similar experiences.”
According to the California Transplant Donor Network, Jill’s goal now that she’s back from Houston is to inspire others to register as organ and tissue donors, because she was given a second chance at life when someone said “yes” to donation.
As part of working toward that awareness, there’s more fun around the corner for Jill, who is a dedicated volunteer currently pursuing a profession in deaf education. Next week, she’s be getting ready for the Giants/Pirates game on Wednesday, July 30, where Jill has been invited to shag the foul balls in honor of her 25th year of life as an organ recipient. Congratulations, Jill!
About the California Transplant Donor Network
The California Transplant Donor Network saves and improves lives by facilitating organ and tissue donation for transplantation.
The California Transplant Donor Network helps 170 hospitals in 40 Northern and Central California and Northern Nevada counties. They offer the option of organ and tissue donation to families whose loved ones have died, coordinate deceased organ recovery and placement, and provide public education with the hope that every resident will become a donor.
The California Transplant Donor Network is federally designated as the region’s organ recovery organization. About 10,000 Northern Californians are waiting for a transplant. Register now with California Transplant Donor Network Learn more about the San Francisco Bay Area TRIO: Transplant Recipients International.