5K Starter Horn sounded by Keyport resident Dawn Burke, a lung transplant recipient.

NEW JERSEY: On Sunday, May 17, NJ Sharing Network, the non-profit organization responsible for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue for those in need of a life-saving transplant, inspired thousands of supporters from all over the world during its LIVE Celebration of Life program.  Viewers from 18 different countries, 38 states, and all across New Jersey tuned in to watch the inspiring and interactive program, making it one of our state’s largest online community events during the current COVID-19 pandemic.  The event was presented by Hackensack Meridian Health and supported by dozens of other generous sponsors.

To view a recording of the LIVE Celebration of Life program, please visit NJSharingNetwork.org/5K.

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The program included inspiring messages and tributes from NJ Sharing Network leadership, staff, board members, 5K teams, sponsors and community partners.  Following the program, many of the participants walked, ran, danced or biked their own 5K routes in their neighborhoods and shared photos and videos on NJ Sharing Network’s social media platforms.

“Clearly, we all wish that we could have come together in person for our usual 5K event, but nothing was going to stop us from celebrating the gift of life,” said Chris Bautista, Chair of the Long Branch 5K Celebration of Life and Captain of Team Luke, the team created in memory of Chris’ son Luke David Bautista, who passed away at age 15, but was able to donate his heart, both kidneys, liver and pancreas to save the lives of five people.  “Our online program served as a special way to honor those who gave, pay tribute to those who received, offer hope to those who continue to wait and remember the lives lost while waiting for the gift of life.”

In addition to inspirational messages from the 5K teams, some powerful and touching highlights of the LIVE Celebration of Life program included:

  • National Anthem sung by Denise Peoples, a double lung transplant recipient with an amazing voice.
  • 5K Starter Horn sounded by Keyport resident Dawn Burke, a lung transplant recipient.
  • Flag raising and Moment of Silence in honor of loved ones who have passed.
  • Messages from inside NJ Sharing Network’s Donation Resource Center (Call Center) and Transplant Laboratory.
  • Messages of self-care during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Unveiling of a new Quilt of Love tribute for donor families.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Celebration of Life events, which first began with an event in 2011 at NJ Sharing Network in New Providence.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NJ Sharing Network changed its originally-scheduled Long Branch 5K event to an online program to provide a healing and uplifting experience for those whose lives have been touched by organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

“We are simply overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from our LIVE Celebration of Life program participants.  Ten years ago, we could not have imagined the incredible impact that our events would have on the donation community,” said Elisse E. Glennon, Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, and Executive Director, Foundation, NJ Sharing Network.  “Since its inception, more than $8 million has been raised to increase the number of lives saved through innovative transplant research, family support, public awareness and education about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.  We plan to keep going until we ensure that everyone who needs a life-saving transplant gets one.  We thank all the families, friends, volunteers and sponsors who have participated every year - especially those who participated in our online program.”

NJ Sharing Network plans to hold its New Providence 5K Celebration of Life on Sunday, September 13, at its headquarters.  This event will be a 5K Walk & USATF Certified Race.  For more information or to sign up, please visit NJSharingNetwork.org/5K.

Today, there are nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents awaiting a life-saving transplant.  Every day, approximately three people are added to the New Jersey waiting list.  One organ donor can save eight lives and one tissue donor can restore health to over 75 people.  New Jersey residents can help save lives by registering as organ and tissue donors, having a conversation with family and friends and getting involved at NJSharingNetwork.org.

About our Foundation

NJ Sharing Network’s Foundation is committed to help increase the number of lives saved through innovative research, family support, public awareness and education about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.