During the next week, New Woodstock resident and recipient of a kidney transplant, Phillip Hamilton, will return to America after competing at the 2011 World Transplant Games in G teborg, Sweden.
Hamilton is one of just three participating athletes from New York state and 60 total athletes representing the United States of America. About 2,500 competitors from more than 60 countries will join Team USA in Scandinavia for the games.
“I am aware I am part of a very small, fortunate group of healthy, transplanted citizens who are able to make the trip abroad, and I am painfully aware that none of my Team CNY teammates are accompanying me to Europe,” Hamilton said. “The trip is an expensive one, and almost cost prohibitive. I will give my level best effort to represent the community, my CNY teammates and the United States with pride and respectful dignity.”
The World Transplant Games are in their 18th year of competition, having started in 1978 in the United Kingdom. This year, the games are being held from June 17 to 24.
Hamilton will be competing in the 200-meter and 400-meter foot races, as well as the long jump, high jump and a team sport known as “floorball,” which he describes as a cross between hockey, basketball and lacrosse.
Hamilton spent much of the past 10 months fixated on training for this competition. His days began at 5:30 a.m. lifting weights and running on the treadmills at Caz Fitness before heading to work, where he manages the College Connections Initiative for Central New York.
After 5 p.m., Hamilton could be seen running and practicing the long jump at the Cazenovia High School track. To alternate his workout regimen, Hamilton would often trail-run at Highland Forest and Toggenburg Mountain.
The World Transplant Games are held biennially, and 2013 competition will be held during late July in Durban, South Africa. The U.S. transplant games are also held biennially, however, the 2012 competition has been suspended due to a shortage of financial and staff resources according to the National Kidney Foundation.
The national games had been running for the past 20 years, in the coming years the NKF will explore options to restructure and hope to offer the competition in 2014.
“The U.S. Games have traditionally been a source of solace, relief and support for donor families and the transplant community, often providing a means for a healthy resolution of the loss of a loved one, continued fellowship, correspondence and a source of moral support that has become necessary and can be found nowhere else,” Hamilton said. “It is singular and positively powerful in its impact on the transplant community, and its discontinuation leaves a sizable chasm.”
Hamilton competed in the 2010 U.S Transplant Games in Madison, Wis.
Before receiving his life-saving transplant, he spent six years and seven months on dialysis waiting for a suitable kidney after collapsing while hiking at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park with his mother in 2002.
Upon his kidney transplantation on Feb. 28, 2009, from an exercise guru in his late-50s from Rochester, Hamilton continued the longstanding tradition of naming the new organ.
Hamilton chose the moniker “Hank Aaron” for his transplanted kidney, paying homage to the famous baseball star; a personal role model of his. “Like me, he is a Southerner by birth, but lived and worked for a time in Milwaukee. He was the model of consistency, had a long career and is the greatest homerun hitter of all time,” he said. “A true giant of the game; his credentials are absolutely unimpeachable. I think it suits the organ well.”
For more information on the National Kidney Foundation, upcoming events and U.S. Transplant Games, access their website kidney.org or call (800) 622-9010.
To learn more about the World Transplant Games visit wtg2011.com, information on the 2013 games in South Africa is accessible at wtgf.org.
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