Olympic Legend Spreads Word About Organ Donation

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Carl Lewis was mid-point in his career - he was at Olympic trials - when his friend, Wendy Marx, received her second liver transplant.

Wendy's brother, Pulitzer-prize winning author Jeffrey Marx, was co-writing a book with Lewis at the time, and the three vowed to raise organ donor awareness.

"It kind a helped give me a purpose because we used my opportunity as an athlete to reach out to other people, so it did enhance my athletic career in a second half in a way that I never could have imagined," said Lewis.

The three worked together until Wendy died awaiting a liver transplant in 2003. 

"I look at her as an idol, somone I can look up to that was a leader," said Lewis.

Lewis and Jeffrey Marx continue their mission. 

So does Benjamin Smeenk of Rochester, who received a kidney transplant when both kidneys failed. 

He was also at JCC Tuesday handing out donor cards.

He only knows that his donor, a 47year old man, gave him something precious.
  
"A new life. I get to enjoy camping," said Smeenk.

Lewis and Marx's appearance at JCC is sponsored by the United Way of Northern New York, which organized "Donate Life Day" to call attention to the need for organ donors.

They speak at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Tuesday) at Sturtz Theater about the importance of organ and tissue donation.
 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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