Participants run in the annual Spring Organ-Tissue Donation Awareness 5krun/2mile walk in Jerseyville.
In September 2004, life took an unexpected turn in the road for the Kallal family of Jerseyville.
Friday morning, Sept. 24, 2004, began as any other day, but by 7:30 a.m. family members’ lives were turned upside down. It was on this day that the family’s father, Mike “Popeye” Kallal, became a tissue donor. Kallal was on his way to work in Hazelwood, Mo., when a vehicle crossed the center line into his vehicle’s path, killing him instantly. Police, firefighters and rescue personnel responded to the scene of the accident and took Kallal to Jersey Community Hospital, where family and friends were told of his passing.
The family had discussed organ donation a few months prior to Mike’ passing, and he said if something ever happened to him, he wanted his organs and tissues donated. Little did they know that consenting to organ and tissue donation would help with the healing process of losing Mike.
More than 1,300 individuals in the St. Louis area are waiting for a transplant, while nationally, there are more than 100,000 individuals on the transplant list. The population on the sign for Jerseyville is 8,500. To imagine that there are more than 10 times that number in need of a transplant to enhance or save their life is mind-boggling. The need for organ or tissue donation does not discriminate; individuals from all walks of life are affected. One donor can improve or enhance up to 25 lives. About two weeks after Mike’s death, the family was notified Mike had given the gift of sight to two individuals outside the United States. To know these two individuals had their sight restored without complications has helped in the family’s healing process.
After attending functions at Mid America Transplant in St. Louis, Missouri, to honor the donor families, the family decided to begin the Spring Organ-Tissue Donation Awareness 5krun/2mile walk in Kallal’s memory. The event’s purpose is to raise awareness for the need of organ and tissue donation and donate the proceeds to various organizations. They chose to hold the event in April because April is Donate Life month. This year will be the seventh annual event with the proceeds being donated to Mid America Transplant Services. They will use this donation toward housing provided to pre- and post-transplant recipients and their families. Since the beginning of the event in 2008, Mid America Transplant Services has received part of the proceeds, with the remaining proceeds funding scholarships for graduating seniors at Jersey Community High School. For the past three years, Jersey Community Hospital has received funds to be used toward their emergency room expansion project.
This year’s S.O.D.A. 5k run/2mile walk will be held Saturday, April 26, at Dolan City Park in Jerseyville. Registration is under way and will continue until the day of the event. To receive a shirt, registration forms must be received by April 15. The entry fee is $20 per person. The morning of the race, a warm-up workout will begin at 7:30 a.m.; at 7:45 a.m. the Kallal family will welcome everyone. The 5k run will begin at 8 a.m. with the 2-mile participants beginning at 8:15 a.m. Prizes will be given to the top three male and female 5k finishers as well as attendance prizes. Race entry forms are available at firstname.lastname@example.org and the Jerseyville Wellness Center.
To make a donation to the Spring Organ-Tissue Donation Awareness cause, make the check payable to S.O.D.A. and mail to 607 Yvette Place, Jerseyville, IL 62052.