This story originally appeared on 6abc.
More than 10,000 people participated in a run in Philadelphia Sunday morning to raise money and awareness for the Gift of Life donor program.
The 26th annual Gift of Life Donor Dash brought families and loved ones out to Eakins Oval for a 5k run, a 10k run, and a 3k walk. Many of the participants either had a family member who was an organ donor or are organ recipients themselves.
“I’m walking for myself. I’m a bilateral lung transplant recipient,” said Dee Chapis from Glenolden. “It changed my whole life. I had like two weeks left and now I’ve gotten to see four grandchildren born.”
Organizers say the need for people like Chapis is constant. There are over 100,000 people nationwide awaiting an organ transplant. and the Gift of Life’s goal is to make sure no one dies while awaiting a transplant.
There are 5,000 people on the organ transplant list in our region.
“Our community is one of the strongest communities in the nation. We’ve led the country in a donation for the past 15 years and it’s because of the community we serve,” said Rick Hasz, the president and CEO of Gift of Life.
In the past 50 years, the nonprofit has coordinated more than 58,000 organ transplants and more than two million tissue transplants.
“Everyone deserves a chance to survive and have a life to live, and who am I to say no? If I can contribute, I’m going to contribute,” said Alice Lewis, who was walking in honor of her grandson.
For the families walking, the event not only helped connect them to a community but also allowed them to celebrate their loved ones.
“We miss her very much. She was a very loving, helping person and the fact that she was able to enrich someone’s life is something that she would’ve done,” said Martha Gaspari, who was walking for her daughter.
Organizers say the Donor Dash raised more than $350,000 this year.