The Chris Klug Foundation (CKF) recently announced the two winners of our Bounce Back Give Back Awards this year! The annual award recognizes two organ transplant recipients who exhibit an outstanding quality of life post-transplant, whether it is through career accomplishments, participation in sports or hobbies, or simply leading fulfilling lives with their family and loved ones.
Tracy Copeland is the second winner of the 2020 Bounce Back Give Back Awards. She is a liver transplant recipient from Nevada, who was perfectly healthy when she unexpectedly went into acute liver failure at 34 years old. After a month of experiencing strange symptoms and going through medical testing to determine the problem, she became comatose and required a liver transplant within hours to survive. Thankfully, a match was found. Tracy received her new liver from a deceased donor, Terry, who tragically passed away in a motorcycle accident not too long before saving Tracy’s life. On the one-year anniversary of her transplant, Tracy was able to meet her donor’s family and they quickly became close friends.
In 2001, her donor family told her about the U.S. Transplant Games, an Olympics-style event for individuals who are waiting for or have gone through lifesaving transplant surgeries. Shortly after first learning about the Games, Tracy began competing in the cycling, swimming, and track events and remains undefeated in her age group in cycling and the virtual triathlon competitions. At the 2006 U.S. Transplant Games, Tracy received the Outstanding Female Athlete Award with her donor family by her side. She has also represented Team USA at the World Transplant Games in Bangkok, Thailand, the Gold Coast, Australia, and Goteberg, Sweden, where she received a second Outstanding Athlete Award. Aside from the Transplant Games, Tracy has competed in multiple triathlons and marathons, including the Arizona Ironman, which she completed in under 13 hours. She continues to inspire others through her athletic endeavors post-transplant.
Although Tracy is employed as a Systems Advisor and Project Manager for the FedEx Supply Chain logistics program full-time, she is also the founder and president of Sierra Nevada Donor Awareness, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of the importance and tremendous need for more organ and tissue donors nationwide, while honoring the lives of organ donors and their families. Tracy also created the foundation’s annual “Donor Walk,” which honors organ donors and raises funds for area families who have been affected by organ donation and transplant. The Walk is in its 13th year and the mother of Tracy’s donor has participated every year since its inception. Tracy is grateful for her completely volunteer board and committee and is proud that Sierra Nevada Donor Awareness has since given back more than $65,000 to the local community.
In addition to running her own organ donation nonprofit, Tracy volunteers with her local organ procurement organization, Donor Network West (who nominated her for this award!), and has spoken to her community for National Donor Sabbath several times.
Both Bounce Back Give Back Award winners are committed to serving as Ambassadors for organ, eye and tissue donation in CKF’s Patient Ambassador Program. CKF Ambassadors visit with patients awaiting transplant, transplant recipients and their families in hospitals and transplant centers to provide encouragement in recovery and inspire recipients to make the most out of their second chance at life.