The Beauty of My Support Network

The Beauty of My Support Network

In June 2016, Lifebanc held its Gift of Life Walk and Run alongside the Transplant Games of America in Cleveland, Ohio. I was a few months post-lung transplant and I felt strong enough to give back to the organ donation community. I enjoy planning events and parties, so it only seemed natural to create a fundraising team and recruit as many walk participants as I could.

(Photo by Mark Koziol)

I signed up as Team Kozstrong, then contacted people to participate and raise money. For about a month, my job was to spread the word, collect pledges, and design and distribute a team T-shirt. The response was incredible! Loads of family members, friends, and co-workers participated. I felt victorious. There was a lot of excitement for the event because it was in downtown Cleveland rather than the usual location outside of the city.

My massive team. (Courtesy of Mark Koziol)

There was palpable anticipation the day of the walk. I woke up to a beautiful and sunny day, though it was very humid, and headed downtown to meet everyone. The energy at the race vibrated with pure joy, excitement, and camaraderie. Standing there to absorb the moment overwhelmed me. To think that Lifebanc and organ, eye, and tissue donation touched all of those many, many people. The area was a sea of different colored T-shirts representing all of the teams. People conversed with strangers by commenting on team shirts and learning the story behind them. We were all part of this club that we’d never imagined joining, but there we were, in comfort and support.

At a center stage, announcements were made while pictures ran across a giant screen. Vendors propped up tents all over the area, packed with freebies, information, refreshments, activities for kids, and lots of water! There was a lot to do before the walk’s beginning, plus plenty of time to take pictures and explore.

(Photo by Mark Koziol)

The Gift of Life Walk event has a Legacy Garden in which signs are posted to honor families and loved ones who chose to give the gift of life. I was emotional while walking through the gardens and appreciating the wonderful people who gave the ultimate gift: life.

Soon after the reflective stroll, it was time for the walk and run. Although it was a slow walk, I finished. I was there at the finish line for the team members who did the longer run. Afterward, I hosted everyone at a neighborhood bar and grill to have lunch and celebrate. Love, laughter, and friendship filled that perfect day.

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Mark Koziol Author
Mark is a survivor of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and subsequently a single lung transplant recipient. He is a former educator and now has been offered an opportunity to share his journey with the readers of Pulmonary Fibrosis News. Mark resides in Cleveland, Ohio and is an avid sports fan supporting the professional teams in Cleveland. Mark has not let his diagnosis curb his enthusiasm for life.
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Mark Koziol Author
Mark is a survivor of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and subsequently a single lung transplant recipient. He is a former educator and now has been offered an opportunity to share his journey with the readers of Pulmonary Fibrosis News. Mark resides in Cleveland, Ohio and is an avid sports fan supporting the professional teams in Cleveland. Mark has not let his diagnosis curb his enthusiasm for life.

4 comments

  1. Rebecca says:

    Love your spirit! So amazing that only a short time after being the recipient of a transplant, that you were fundraising and raising awareness for Lifebanc and organ donation. You are an inspiration!

    • Mark Koziol says:

      Hello Rebecca, thank you for your kind words. I couldn’t have done this without the help, encouragement and the love of my friends.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Dear Mark,
    I am also amazed at your great spirit! I hope my husband and I can gain some of your high spirits along this journey. God Bless and Happy Easter weekend!

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