First Red Shoe Run set for April 10

• Competitive event to promote blood, bone marrow, cornea, organ and tissue donations

The first-ever “Red Shoe Run—For Donor Awareness” will be held at Rock Valley College in Rockford Saturday, April 10, starting at 8 a.m. The competitive run is being held to help raise awareness of the need for lifesaving blood, bone marrow, cornea, organ and tissue donations.

Proceeds from the event will support the local donation community with beneficiaries changing each year. This year, the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) will be the beneficiary.

Each year, more than 30,000 people from all races, ethnic communities and socioeconomic backgrounds are diagnosed with life-threatening blood diseases, such as leukemia and inherited diseases. Many could be cured with a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant, but they need matching donors. About 30 percent will find a matching donor within their family. The remaining 70 percent will need to search for an unrelated donor.

The NMDP matches unrelated donors and patients on the basis of tissue type, an inherited characteristic much like hair or eye color. People of similar ethnic origin are more likely to provide tissue matches for one another.

The NMDP has more than 4 million potential donors on its National Registry. Although that sounds like a large number of donors, more donors must be recruited because of natural attrition, i.e., changes in health status of donors or overage.

At any given time, 3,000 patients are searching the NMDP Registry for an unrelated donor. The NMDP has facilitated transplants for more than 16,300 patients since 1987 and facilitates more than 170 transplants each month.

There is a financial commitment involved when someone becomes a part of the NMDP Registry. The current cost of the tissue typing blood test is $60, which impacts the number of people able to participate.

Organizations can sponsor a team for the Red Shoe Run with the money being used to cover the tissue typing blood test.

For more information or information on sponsorship proposals, contact the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network at 815-961-8214. For more information on the NMDP, visit

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