By: Wills Porter
Welcome to the Games
“Welcome to the 2008 Transplant Games!” As these words echoed over the crowd, the room erupted in applause and cheers. Standing with my teammates, I looked around the auditorium and noticed the venue was completely full. It was in that moment that I realized the magnitude of the Transplant Games. When we all took our seats for the opening ceremonies, I was overcome with a sense of pride and gratitude. I couldn’t help but think about the training and dedication I had put forth to prepare for the Games. I knew the time would soon come to put my training to the test. I knew I was ready to go. However, no amount of training could have prepared me for the life-changing week I was about to have.
After opening ceremonies concluded, I spent time meeting with other transplant recipients and donor families from across the country. In these interactions, I came to see that I was not alone in my transplant journey. Most importantly meeting other recipients and donor families helped me gain a fresh perspective of my own transplant experience. Before the games, I felt alone in my transplant experience. Before the games, I allowed others to speak negativity into my life and predetermine my future potential. At the Games, I came to see that my transplant story was something to be proud of. I also came to understand that while I had a complex medical past, I had a choice to either be a victim or a victor. On the day of my track events, I stepped foot onto the track forever changed. When I finished my first running event, I knew I had found my purpose in Pittsburgh. My purpose was to honor my donor and use my transplant story to inspire others. I would achieve this purpose so long as I dared to be different, and different is what Intended to be.