Archive for Awareness Building

Leave a Legacy of Life

Donating life

Imagine a healthy, active, 48 year-old working man with a cold that just won’t go away. This common cold is a virus that creeps through his body, attacks his heart and destroys the muscle until it can only pump at 10% of its capacity. After just a few months, this man cannot climb a flight of stairs, cannot walk the family dog around the block, and cannot work. His only option for recovery is a heart transplant. And now, you are his only hope.

Anyone can sign up to be an organ donor, regardless of age, health, or religion. Yet, only 40% of Americans are registered donors. The gap between the number of organ donors and the number of people waiting for a transplant increases every day. 22 people die each day waiting for a transplant. These deaths could be prevented if more people were donors. As a donor, you could change the lives of up to 8 people by sharing your heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and pancreas.

Thanks to the forward thinking and generosity of one person and his family, that once dying 48 year-old manmy father – is now 68. He loves cycling, helping neighbors with small home repairs, traveling with my mom, and cheering for me at triathlons.

One person. One heart. One box checked to be an organ donor – gave my family 20 more years. You can add over 160 years to your life by leaving your organs for another person in need.

Leave a legacy of life. Tell your friends and family about your intentions. Sign up to be an organ donor.

Celebration Cycle – Route

Harold and Sara Strope

The Celebration Cycle is a four day bicycle ride from Albany, NY to Boston, MA to celebrate Harold Strope’s 20th “Heart-Aversary.” The route will cover the almost 200 mile journey he took in an ambulance in 1995 to receive his new heart at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Register to Ride! 

Sign up to Volunteer!


Day 1: Albany to Berkshires

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Distance: 56 miles

Route Map:

Starting Point: Saville Road Bicycle Shop, Delmar, NY

Finishing Point: The Porches, North Adams, MA

Today’s journey will depart from our hometown, roll through downtown Albany and across the Hudson River.  We’ll continue through Averill Park  (Harold’s childhood home) on Rt. 43 and cross the state line into Hancock, MA.  From there, we’ll head North to North Adams, MA along MassParks’ Ashuwilticook Rail Trail with its great views of local lakes and the Mt. Greylock range.

North Adams is a great place to meet us!  You can spend the day exploring the exhibits at MASS MoCA or hiking on nearby trails.

Overnight: The Porches Inn, North Adams


Day 2: The Berkshires to Central Mass

Friday, October 2, 2015

Distance: 41 miles

Route Map:

Optional Route:

Starting Point: Wendell Country Store, Wendell, MA

Finishing Point: Over Easy Cafe, Sterling, MA

There’s an option to start the day directly from North Adams, or drive directly to Wendell Country Store to save the legs.

If starting in North Adams, there’s lots of winding road and rolling hills, plus an 11 mile gradual climb to Wendell.

From Wendell, there’s a nice cruise downhill, then rolling terrain until we reach Princeton.  Rest stops on the Barre Town Common and the Sterling Fire Station are good opportunites to get some snacks and water.

Overnight: Holiday Inn Express, Downtown Worcester


Day 3: Central Mass to “Just Outside Boston”

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Distance: 34 miles

Route Map:

Starting Point: Over Easy Cafe, Sterling, MA

Finishing Point: Concord Visitor Center, Concord, MA

We’ll roll along mostly flat scenery and finish the day along the historic battlefields near Concord, MA.

Overnight: Best Western Concord


Day 4: Bedford to BOSTON

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Distance: 16 miles

Route Map- Bedford:

Route Map – Alewife:

Starting Point: The Minuteman Trail in Bedford, MA OR Alewife T Stop

Finishing Point: The John Jeffries House, Boston, MA – in the heart of Beacon Hill, Corner of Charles Street and Across from the Charles St T Stop on the Red Line

The final day of the ride is a great one for everyone.  Whether you’re a local or visiting from out of town, there are easy ways you can join in the celebration.

You can start at the beginning of the Minuteman Bike path and roll an easy 16 miles into Boston or meet us at the T in Alewife for the final 5 miles.  We’ll use a mixture of bike paths and roads with bike lanes to navigate through Cambridge, across the Charles to our finish at the John Jeffries House parking lot on Cambridge Street.

The Celebration Cycle will end with the 20th Heart-Aversary Party at the Liberty Hotel.  Please be sure to RSVP!


Overnight Lodging:

There are room blocks at the John Jeffries House and the Liberty Hotel. You can call the John Jeffries House to reserve and a link will be coming shortly for the Liberty Hotel.




Save the Date: Celebration Cycle Oct 2-4, 2015

It’s official!  We’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Harold Strope’s heart transplant with a bicycle ride from Albany, NY to Boston, MA.  This is the 200 mile journey he took in an ambulance in 1995 to receive his new heart at Massachusetts General HospitalTri4Dad 011

You can join us for all three days of the ride or just the final spin around Boston.  We’ll also have a post-ride celebration on Sunday, October 4, 2015.

Not a cyclist? No problem!  Just like organ donation and transplantation, we need a community of support to make this celebration happen.  Sign up to volunteer with pre-ride logistics or lend a hand throughout the weekend.

Sign up now!


National Donor Day: Share the Love in 2013

February 14th marks National Donor Day.  In addition to giving chocolates and roses, this is a great day to share the gift of life by signing up to become an organ donor.

National Donor Day was started in 1998 by the Saturn Corporation and its United Auto Workers partners with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and many nonprofit health organizations. Today, you’ll find many nonprofit health organizations running blood drives and organ donation sign ups.

National Donor Day is also a good opportunity to say thank you to all the donors and donor families who gave others – like my father – a second chance.

Thank you to the family who chose to donate life on October 26, 1995.

Community Education: Burton High School

As an Ambassador for the California Transplant Donor Network, today I spoke to a health careers class at Philip & Sala Burton High School in San Francisco.  The group of 28 juniors participated in the discussion and asked some great questions.

My co-presenter Caitlin and I prepared a script, some quick facts, a short video, an exercise, and of course, our own personal stories to share the details about organ donation.  Our goal was to educate the students and make sure they were informed to make the best decision for themselves about whether or not to be an organ donor.

FACT: If you are between 13 and 17 years old, you can join the Donate Life California Registry, but your parents will make the final decision about organ and tissue donation at the appropriate time.

We kicked off the discussion by asking the students if they were planning to get their driver’s licenses soon.  The hands shot up eagerly.  But, did the students know they would be asked if they wanted to be a donor when they got their licenses?  Murmurs of “I didn’t know they would ask that then” echoed through the classroom.  So, what should you know about organ donation and transplantation to make that decision?  We showed a brief video made by teens, for teens to answer that question.

After covering the basic facts about the need for organ donors (there are over 114,000 people in the U.S. waiting for transplants, 21,000 in California, and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ), we moved into our personal stories.

Telling my father’s story is usually as easy as telling about my daily commute. And, it has a great ending – my father received a heart and he is now an active cyclist.  But standing in a high school, in front of a crowd of juniors, changed the ease with which I could talk.  I felt like it was the Fall of 1995 again.  I was no longer the presenter, but the 16 year old student getting pulled out of French class because my father was being transferred from Albany’s hospital to Massachusetts General Hospital that afternoon and I had to go say goodbye.  Nothing was certain except for the fact that my father’s heart condition was deteriorating quickly and only a new heart could save him.

Choking back the tears, I somehow regained consciousness that I was the presenter with a positive story.  I asked the students a quick question, “at what rate do you think my father’s heart was functioning to be near the top of the transplant list?” As they shouted out some numbers, I gathered my composure and finished the tale.  I ended the presentation with photos of me and my father from our recent cycling race and triathlon.  Applause.  Phew!

We’ve been invited back to speak again to the Burton senior class.  If you know of another school that would like to hear about organ donation, please contact us.



Cycle for Life – Centurion NY

On June 23, 2012, we joined the NY Center for Donation and Transplant’s team Cycle for Life to participate in the Centurion New York 25 mile ride.  The race kicked off next to Lake George and the Million Dollar Beach with approximately 200 cyclists.  The Organ Donor for Life participants included myself, Harold Strope and Andrew Dudek.  We were supported with great cheering by Miriam Strope, Mona Dudek, Roya Dudek and Cindy and Bridget from CDTNY.

The 25 mile loop took us out of Lake George towards Lake Luzerne.  There were some long gradual climbs to start.  It was smooth sailing until about mile 13.  For what was billed as a race for beginners, the 10% grade on one hill was definitely a challenge.  This short and steep climb was followed on by at least two more climbs that surprised many of the cyclists.  Team Cycle for Life was not the only charity team participating.  There was a large group with Team Challenge for Crohn’s and Colitis disease.  Given people are overcoming serious illnesses and surgeries to participate, the course could have been a little more beginner Harold and Sara Strope finish the Centurion NY 25 mile racefriendly.

That said, we made it through.  As Harold and I cruised back to the Lake Front, we chatted quickly about how to cross the finish line: “high five? hold hands? race?”  Hold hands down the finisher chute!  We crossed the finish line together as the race announcer shared our family’s store and my father’s accomplishment.

And to top everything off, after we crossed the finish line, a number of other racers and supporters stopped by the Cycle for Life tent to inquire about organ donation!

For a new race outside our hometown, this was a good start.  We look forward to growing our presence next year.  And, we look forward to more activities with our new partner – the Center for Donation and Transplant!

View more photos from the race weekend!

Cycle for Life – Saturday, June 23

Saturday, June 23, 2012 Organ Donor for Life will be joining with the New York Center for Donation & Transplant’s Cycle for Life team to participate in the Centurion New York.  The Center for Donation & Transplantation is one of 58 federally designated organ procurement organizations in the US and serves parts of NY, VT and MA.  We will be riding 25 miles through the foothills of the Adirondacks and around Lake George. Some of us will go on to cycle 50 and 100 miles on Sunday!

We’re looking forward to cycling with a group of organ transplant recipients and donor families from our region.  Last summer, I’m pretty certain Harold was the only heart transplant recipient racing in the Pine Bush Triathlon.

Hopefully, this will be just the start of many more partnerships and races in the years ahead.  I’ve already started planning for Harold’s 20th anniversary of his heart transplant in 2015.

First 2012 Cycling Event Selected

I am excited to announce the first official Organ Donor for Life race for 2012.  We will be participating in the Centurion Lake George, New York.  This is a weekend-long cycling event June 22-24, 2012 with options for everyone from beginner cyclist to elite athlete.  We are partnering with Donate Life’s Cycle for Life team to create a team and ride to raise awareness for organ donation.

The weekend kicks off on Friday, June 22nd with a Hill Climb.  Dad and I will be participating in the 25 mile ride on Saturday.  And, I signed up for the 50 mile option on Sunday too.  There is also a 100 mile option on Sunday.  And, for those of you not cycling, you have beautiful Lake George to enjoy!

We are trying to get 50 cyclists to join the overall Cycle for Life team.  Please let me know if you’d like to participate.  I have a registration discount code for you!

Organ Donor Month – A Recap

April 2012 marked National Organ Donor Month in the U.S.  While there were many ceremonies for donor families, celebrations of life for recipients, and declarations made across states, the most notable activity was the announcement of Facebook’s feature to indicate you are an organ donor.

While the new “Health & Wellness” indicator on your Facebook timeline does not actually register you to become an organ donor, it is a public (or friends-only) pledge and acknowledgment of your intention to do so.  Facebook does provide links to Donate Life, which in turn links you to your state registry.

The Facebook and Donate Life partnership certainly brings more attention to the need for an increase in organ donation.  And, the initial feedback was overwhelming – post-announcement, several states saw registrations spike into the thousands for a day when they are typically in the hundreds.  I couldn’t help but wonder, what comes next? (And, it seems I am not the only one wondering such things, living donation is yet to be addressed)

Signing up to become an organ donor is still a fragmented process.  How you can sign up (online, by mail, in person) differs state by state.  When you move states, you’ll need to re-register.  When you renew your driver’s license, you may need to re-register too.  And, you still need to make your intentions clear to your family. How are we going to streamline this process and make it easier?  How can I indicate in one place that I want to be an organ donor and have this be legal consent and easily accessible information no matter where I am living or traveling?

I guess the real question is, how do we harness this building consent and awareness into ongoing momentum to save lives?



Looking Ahead – 2012 Organ Donor Calendar

Organ Donor for Life is gearing up for a busy 2012!  Below is a quick snapshot of some key dates and activities.  We’ll be making some exciting announcements soon about our key races for the 2012 campaign – and how you can be a part of the Lifesaver Team!

January: National Volunteer Blood Donor Month

February 14: National Donor Day

April: National Donate Life Month

November: National Marrow Awareness Month