The 2012 Transplant Games of America will be held at Grand Valley next July.
An announcement regarding the July 28-31 games was made by the West Michigan Sports Commission August 23 in the Fieldhouse on the Allendale Campus. Tim Selgo, GVSU director of athletics and WMSC board member, said Grand Valley officials were pleased to be able to host the games, which are expected to draw about 600 athletes.
WMSC Executive Director Michael Guswiler said a Grand Valley alumnus made it his mission to save the games from cancelation. TJ Maciak, who received a kidney donation, is a past Transplant Games athlete and made connections to ensure the 2012 games would go on as planned. The games had been hosted by the National Kidney Foundation but the foundation announced in the spring it would no longer sponsor the event.
“The Transplant Games are very special; it’s like a big family reunion,” Maciak said. “I knew I couldn’t let it be canceled and slip away.” Maciak graduated in 1999 and now works for the Johnson Center for Philanthropy. He contacted Peter Secchia, who then suggested Maciak contact the WMSC to pursue sponsoring the games.
Guswiler said the Transplant Games fall well within the WMSC’s mission of creating diverse sporting events for the community. The commission was created in 2007.
He added that more than 110,500 people in the U.S. are on a waiting list for an organ transplant. The games serve to raise awareness of organ donation.