Fundraiser supports a second chance


Courtesy of City of Hammond Recreation Department

The “Team Louisiana Annual Donor Dash 5K Walk/Run” is scheduled for April 27 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Zemurray Park. The event aims to raise money for the Transplant Games of America, raise awareness of the cause, and encourage people to become organ donors.

The “Team Louisiana Annual Donor Dash 5K Walk/Run” aims to promote organ donation and celebrate transplant recipients.

Coinciding with National Donate Life Month, the event is scheduled for Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Zemurray Park. All proceeds will go towards Team Louisiana competing in the Transplant Games of America in Meadowlands, New Jersey next year.

Isiah Douglas, a participant in Team Louisiana, received a donor heart in 2013, and he discussed what the transplant means to him.

“It’s simply the gift of life, giving one a second chance, and that’s what I remember when I received my heart back in 2013, and I tell you, I was so happy,” said Douglas. “I thank God. I thank my Lord and Savior because I was so overwhelmed that he had given me a second chance.”

For anyone who does not want to run or walk, Douglas encouraged attending to support the cause.

“If they don’t want to walk, it’s a social event,” shared Douglas. “It’s a family event. We’ll be serving jambalaya and hamburgers for participants, and we’ll be accepting all donations. The ones that don’t want to run or don’t want to walk, it’s only two hours. We’re gonna be there from 9 to 12, and they can just come and support.”

Christiano Mouswaswa, recreation supervisor for the City of Hammond, explained how the city became involved in the event after Douglas approached them.

“As soon as he told me what happened to him and why he’s putting on this event, I felt like we really need to raise awareness,” stated Mouswaswa. “He came up with the idea, and he brought everyone together. I feel like it’s a really good cause.”

Mouswaswa’s goal for the event is to help people feel more comfortable becoming an organ donor.

“Of course, we want to raise money to help Team Louisiana, but at the same time, it’s just raising awareness,” shared Mouswaswa.

Beyond money and awareness, Douglas hopes people become a part of the cause.

“I’m hoping that they do support the donor dash, but more than that, I want them sign up to be an organ donor,” explained Douglas. “It simply saves lives, and I know before I received my heart, I took it for granted. Be honest with you, I didn’t give it a second thought, but then when it hit home, then you have a new outlook on this thing, and more than anything, I ask them to be an organ donor.”

The $25 registration fee includes a T-shirt. Anyone can sign up online at the City of Hammond Facebook page or Eventbrite, or in person at the Michael J. Kenney Recreation Center.