NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Elizabeth Stamler’s life has been affected by organ and tissue donation – in more ways than one. Both her father and brother received a life-saving heart transplant and her other brother later passed away and became a tissue donor, helping over 30 people. Elizabeth, resident of Scotch Plains, is a dedicated volunteer of NJ Sharing Network and captain of Donation Nation, one of the teams participating in this year’s 5K Celebration of Life in New Providence.

NJ Sharing Network’s Annual 5K Celebration of Life Walk/Run will be take place Sunday, June 5, at NJ Sharing Network headquarters, 691 Central Avenue in New Providence, NJ and is a USATF Certified Race. Every year, the event brings together thousands of walkers, runners and volunteers to honor those who gave the gift of organ or tissue, pay tribute to those who have a received a transplant, offer hope to those waiting for a transplant and remember those who passed away while waiting for the gift of life.

Others, like Elizabeth, have many reasons to celebrate the gift of life and participate in the upcoming 5K:

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  • Allison Ognibene of Sparta received a heart and double lung transplant nearly 30 years ago. At the time of her transplant, she says she was an experiment and doctors weren’t certain that the surgery would be successful. Allison has been training for the upcoming 5K—it will be her first.
  • Jenny Godnick, living kidney donor, was unfortunately not a match for her brother-in-law, who was in need of a transplant. Instead, the Hightstown resident ended up donating to someone else in the chain and another person who was a part of the chain was able to save her brother-in-law. Jenny runs at the 5K every year as a member of Team Susie. Team Susie runs in memory of Susie Nelson who passed away and gave the gift of life

“The Annual 5K Celebration of Life is an amazing gathering of families, friends and volunteers who have been touched by organ and tissue donation,” said NJ Sharing Network President and CEO Joe Roth.  “The outpouring of support for each other and dedication to our life-saving mission is palpable and inspiring.”

The organization has raised over $700,000 and hopes to raise $1.25 million this year to support donor families and advance research and education about organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

The 2016 Celebration of Life series kicked off on April 24 in Bergen County and the final 5K Walk/Run will be held Sunday, August 21 at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ.

“NJ Sharing Network set a record in 2015 for making 531 organ transplants possible, a 37 percent increase from 2014. It’s events like these that help call attention to the cause and raise funds that will literally save lives,” added Roth.

Today, there are 122,000 people waiting for a transplant and 22 die each day, but one donor can save eight people and one tissue donor can enhance the lives of 50 people.  In New Jersey, there are 5,000 people on the waiting list and one person dies every three days waiting for an organ transplant.

New Jersey residents can help save lives by registering as organ and tissue donors at www.NJSharingNetwork.org, talking about it with their families and friends and joining NJ Sharing Network at its next 5K Celebration of Life.