NORTHBROOK, IL. and ASPEN, CO., September 26, 2017 – Astellas, in collaboration with the Chris Klug Foundation (CKF), recently announced this year’s winners of the annual Bounce Back, Give Back Awards. The awards recognize two transplant recipients who exhibit an exceptional post-transplant quality of life, whether it is a career accomplishment, participation in a sport or hobby, or simply leading a fulfilling life with family and loved ones.
“The Bounce Back, Give Back Award is about celebrating active and healthy lives post-transplant, as well as educating and encouraging all transplant recipients in their post-transplant journey,” said Jeff Winton, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs at Astellas. “For more than 20 years, Astellas has supported the transplant community through programs like the Bounce Back, Give Back Award, and the Patient Ambassador Program — a program where the Chris Klug Foundation visits with patients and staff at transplant centers offering inspiration to those touched by transplantation.”
More than 65 nominations representing individuals from 24 states were received for this year’s awards. A team of CKF reviewers selected the two award winners. The two honorees and one guest each will enjoy an all-expense-paid trip to Aspen for the award ceremony. Awards will be presented during the Chris Klug Foundation’s “Summit for Life” weekend and will include attendance at a nighttime, up-hill race up Aspen Mountain that traditionally draws more than 500 participants. Proceeds from the event will benefit CKF. The Bounce Back, Give Back Awards will be presented during the Party for Life, at the top of Aspen Mountain at the conclusion of the race.
This year’s first award winner, Valen Keefer, has demonstrated a commitment to spreading the word about Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) and advocating for organ transplantation while honoring her donor. After being diagnosed with PKD at age 10, Valen battled serious health complications until receiving a lifesaving kidney saving transplant at age 19. Since that time, she has dedicated her life’s work to being an ambassador for the cause.
As a blog writer for the PKD Foundation Valen has published more than 210 articles. She is a founding committee member of the Sacramento chapter of the PKD Foundation, Corks for a Cure event and has spoken at more than 90 different gatherings, reaching thousands of people. Awarded the 2012 Outstanding Media Ambassador for Sierra Donor Services, Valen’s efforts include an extensive list of volunteer and professional accomplishments including being the subject of an award-winning biography and selected as one of the 12 Most Inspiring Women of “20 Million in 2012” by Donate Life America.
This year’s second award winner, Jim Brien, received a kidney transplant from his brother 35 years ago after a lengthy battle with kidney failure. Since then, Jim has persisted in his work to inspire his family and community to promote the cause of organ donation.
His list of accomplishments is extensive; including serving as EMT President and as a member of the US Transplant Games Athletic Advisory Board. He participated in 8 US Transplant Games, 7 International Summer Transplant Games, 6 International Winter Transplant Games, and numerous runs and bike races to promote organ donation. He frequently uses CKF materials to advocate and educate when presenting to high schools, community groups, and civic organizations. Jim is highly involved with numerous charities and openly shares his story to inspire others. Along with many other efforts to advocate, Jim is an on-going organ donation policy advocate with his local legislature.
Both award winners are committed to serving as Ambassadors for organ and tissue donation in CKF’s Patient Ambassador Program. CKF Ambassadors visit with transplant recipients and families in hospitals and transplant centers to provide encouragement in recovery and inspire recipients to make the most of their second chance in life.
Astellas is a pharmaceutical company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products. For more information on Astellas, please visit our website at www.astellas.us. You can also follow us on Twitter at @AstellasUS, Facebook at www.facebook.com/AstellasUS or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/astellas-pharma.
About The Chris Klug Foundation
Founded in 2003, The Chris Klug Foundation is dedicated to promoting lifesaving organ and tissue donation and improving the quality of life for those touched by donation. Chris Klug was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare disease for which the only cure is a liver transplant. He received a liver transplant and went on to win a bronze medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics a mere 18 months post-transplant. Soon thereafter, Chris started the Chris Klug Foundation. Learn more about the foundation at www.chrisklugfoundation.org.
For further information:
Lauren Pierce, Chris Klug Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org, 607-333-4814
Tyler Marciniak, Astellas, email@example.com, 847-736-7145