For the first time in 30 years, The Transplant Games of America are coming to New Jersey in Summer 2020 for a six-day event at The American Dream at the Meadowlands.

Competing in The Transplant Games are donors and recipients of organs, tissue and bone marrow.

There are group sports such as basketball and volleyball. There's individual sports like tennis and pickleball. There are also competitions for people who are not athletic such as cornhole, darts, poker. There will also be singing and dancing competitions.

Aside from the games, memorial and tribute events will be held honoring deceased organ donors as well as celebratory events honoring living donors and transplant recipients.

There will also be other events and activities happening over the course of the six-day festival from July 17-22, 2020, in Newark and Union County.

Elisse Glennon, vice president and chief administrative officer at The NJ Sharing Network, said the festival includes over 20 competitions and a dozen other special events. She said this will be a time to bring together the entire donation and transplant community, meaning transplant recipients, donor families, living donors and advocates to celebrate the success of organ donation and transplantation.

For the first time ever, the Transplant Games of America are being held in a public place. Glennon said typically the games are held in a convention center and the folks there are the ones who are participating. But now that they're being held at The American Dream, which gives the general public in New Jersey as well as international travelers an opportunity to see and be curious as to what is happening at the games.

The games are held every other year in a different U.S. city. Last summer in Salt Lake City, there were 8,000 people who participated. But Glennon said with the games being held next summer in the New Jersey/New York region, it is expected that between 12,000 and 15,000 people will come out for the games.

She said one of the biggest features of The Transplant Games of America is the opening ceremony. The ceremony features teams from all over the country. They are introduced individually with their team song and then the torch is lit. This is happening at The Prudential Center in Newark.

 

Glennon said bringing an international event of this magnitude to New Jersey will really help elevate the conversation about the importance of organ donation. She believes it will bring people together like never before to talk about donations and transplantation.

For the sixth consecutive record breaking year, more than 43,400 life-saving transplants (including living donation) were made possible across the nation in 2018.

"Our hope is that everyone hears the message about the power of organ donation, the success of transplantation and people are moved to either learn more or get involved, register to be an organ donor or perhaps potentially become a living donor themselves," said Glennon.

While it's still a year away, interested people can go to www.njsharingnetwork.org to start receiving e-mail blasts. Registration should open up in the fall.

Glennon also stressed the need for volunteers. More than 4,000 volunteers are needed to make The Transplant Games of America a huge success. So for those who don't want to compete may be interested in picking up a couple of volunteer shifts instead.

Click on the Transplant Games link on the website and find out how to compete, become a volunteer or how to become a corporate sponsor.

More from New Jersey 101.5: