April 22, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois Athletics has joined Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's "team" and will promote the state's tissue and organ donation registry through its athletics events throughout 2009-10, Secretary White and NIU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher announced Wednesday.
The partnership was announced at a press conference in the McCareins Auditorium of the Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center on the NIU campus. In addition to Secretary White and Compher, student-athletes and coaches from each of Northern Illinois' 17 sports programs attended the event, including football coach Jerry Kill and basketball coaches Ricardo Patton and Carol Owens. A pair of DeKalb residents who received heart transplants thanks to organ donation - 60-year-old Roger Grandys and 13-year-old Jonathan Bell - spoke to the group as did Jarrett Payton, who continues the legacy of his father, famed Chicago Bear Walter Payton, through his advocacy of the Life Goes On initiative. NIU Alumni Association Executive Director Joe Matty pledged his organization's support for the program as they reach out to their 211,000 members.
"The coaches, student-athletes and staff of Northern Illinois Athletics are extremely pleased to join Secretary of State White in his effort to promote organ and tissue donation throughout the state," Compher said. " We believe the visibility of our events, specifically the Nov. 5 Life Goes On football game, as well as an upcoming basketball doubleheader, will help bring attention to this great cause and provide a platform for potential donors to sign up on the spot."
NIU has designated its home football game versus Eastern Michigan on November 5, 2009 as the Life Goes On game. Fans attending the game will be able to register for the state's tissue and organ donation program at Huskie Stadium at tables staffed by NIU athletic staff and student-athletes. Public address announcements will be made at the game and through the Northern Illinois radio broadcasts. The game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. (Central) at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.
During the winter, a Northern Illinois basketball doubleheader will be designated as a Life Goes On event and similar efforts will be made to raise awareness about the Organ and Tissue Donor Program at the NIU Convocation Center that day. In addition, Secretary White offered to send the famed Jesse White Tumblers to perform at halftime on Life Goes On Day.
April is National Donate Life! Month and Secretary White is traveling throughout the state encouraging more people to "become heroes" by signing up to be organ and tissue donors. While more than 4.3 million people have signed up for the Organ and Tissue Donor Registry in Illinois, those who have not made the commitment since Jan. 1, 2006 must register again as the program has changed so that the decision to donate is legally binding.
Illinois already boasts one of the most successful state registries in the country and Secretary White hopes events like Wednesday's press conference, and partnerships like the one announced with NIU, will spur even more people to "give the gift of life."
Illinoisans can be added to the registry, or obtain more information on the program, by visiting www.LifeGoesOn.com or calling the Illinois Secretary of State Organ/Tissue Donor Program at 1-800-210-2106. In addition, registration is available at any state driver's license facility.
-- NIU --
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