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Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Ride for Life" cycling event supports Mid-South Transplant Foundation's organ and tissue donation efforts

“Ride for Life” cycling event supports Mid-South Transplant Foundation’s organ and tissue donation efforts
By:  Michael Lander

The "Ride for Life" starts and finishes at Memorial
Park.  Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery
is one of the major sponsors for this Mid-South
Transplant Foundation event.  (Photo:
Courtesy of MSTF)

Life is a gift and the Mid-South Transplant Foundation, Inc. would like to bring that gift of life to all those who desperately need it.

On Sunday, June 14, 2015, the Mid-South Transplant Foundation (MSTF) will be hosting its fourth annual “Ride for Life” cycling event. 

There will be a one mile fun ride for children and a 25 mile ride for everyone else and the event will take place at Memorial Park at Poplar and I-240, (5668 Poplar Ave.).  It will begin at 7 a.m. 

Click on this link to register.

The ride is one of the primary fundraising events for MSTF.

“We do have other events through the year, but this is one of our main ones,” Randa Lipman said. 

Lipman is the Community Outreach Manager for MSTF in Cordova, Tenn.

“We’ve had an average of about 100 cyclists on each of the previous rides, but we are hopeful we will attract even more this year,” Lipman said.

The "Ride for Life" event offers a family fun one mile
ride for children and a very scenic and fully
supported 25 mile ride with a lead and a SAG
vehicle and two rest stops along the way.
(Photo:  Courtesy of MSTF)

MSTF recently had a lot of people attend and support a “Linking Hands for Life” event in April, which was National Donate Life Month (NDLM), and she is hopeful that the momentum will continue through the “Ride for Life” event in June.

The primary mission of the Mid-South Transplant Foundation is to save lives and it does this as a federally designated Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) for western Tennessee, Arkansas, and northern Mississippi. 

The foundation works directly with health care professionals and with people in our community to help raise awareness and to encourage them to offer the gift of life to others through organ and tissue donation.  Their role is to also ensure that patients who are in the most need for an organ and tissue transplant receive them.

“Because there are so many myths and misconceptions that prevent people from registering to be an organ and tissue donor, our staff tries to educate the public about the facts so that people can make informed decisions.  We then encourage them to tell their families,” Lipman said.

Part of the fun for the "Ride for Life" is the
ride, the other part is just enjoying the
moment, which might include a good
laugh or even an impromptu dance.
(Photo:  Courtesy of MSTF)

Click on this link to learn more about some of the
myths and misconceptions of organ and tissue donation.

Memorial Park is one of the major sponsors of the “Ride for Life” event and it is the location where the ride begins and ends.

“Throughout the years, we at Memorial Park have seen firsthand the tremendous benefits that are derived from the gift of organ and tissue donation…. and we want to promote the ideals of the Mid-South Transplant Foundation and encourage folks to consider giving a gift that will outlast their lifetime,” Memorial Park Funeral Director, Hannah Moore said.

The idea for doing the ride originated with Dr. James B. Latta of Memphis.  He suggested the event as an affirmation of life and an opportunity to promote organ and tissue donation.

“I wanted all of us to create an event to celebrate the gift of life and transplantation,” Latta said.

“The Mid-South Transplantation Foundation itself was founded in 1976 by Dr. Louis Britt who was a transplant surgeon who performed the first kidney transplant here in Memphis in 1970,” Lipman said.

The "Ride for Life" is fun, but crossing the
finish line is often a welcomed sight for
some of the cyclists who participate.
(Photo:  Courtesy of MSTF)

Click on this link for
a complete history of MSTF.

Over the years, there have been thousands of people who have received a lifesaving transplant through MSTF, and Erskine Gillespie is one of them.

Gillespie received a liver transplant 20 years ago and today he is the Community Development Coordinator for MSTF who oversees the “Ride for Life” ride.  In July 2014, he participated and won the bronze medal in cycling at the Transplant Games in Houston, Texas.

“My initial thought was that I’d done everything on this earth that God wanted me to do and all that was left was for me to die,” Gillespie said.

Fortunately, for Gillespie, that was not the end of his story.

“I think it’s phenomenal to show the restorative power that comes through the process of organ and tissue donation.  Each morning that I wake up I remember that I’m only here because of the wonderful gift from a stranger.  It’s a gift you take pride in and really strive to make sure you get the max benefit from and I let everyone know I’m happy to have this second chance,” Gillespie said.

Cycling events could not happen without the
support of volunteers and many of those who
work the "Ride for Life" are either transplant
recipients or they are their friends and/or
family.  (Photo:  Courtesy of MSTF)

“When Dean Williams’ wife said ‘yes’ to organ donation, she gave me a second chance…. and I got to see the dawning of a new life.  This story is uniquely mine, but it is not unique only to me because there are others who have had that same journey.  Others have also gone from being on death’s door to having a vital life, too,” Gillespie added.

“There are currently more than 123,000 on the national waiting list, waiting for a lifesaving transplant.  One person can donate up to eight solid organs and help another 50 people with tissue donation.  Why would you not want you or your loved one’s legacy to live on by helping so many others?  You can register to be an organ and tissue donor by visiting,” Lipman said.

The “Ride for Life” is a great a way to help those like Erskine Gillespie who are alive today thanks to MSTF.

Many transplant recipients and their friends and/or their families volunteer and support events like the “Ride for Life.”

Erskine Gillespie received a liver transplant 20 years
ago and in July 2014 he won the bronze medal at
the Transplant Games in Houston, Texas.  (Photo:
Courtesy of MSTF)

The MSTF’s ride will have a lead vehicle and a SAG vehicle and all turns will be marked with blue bike turn signs.  A que sheet will also be provided to those doing the 25 mile route.  Click here to view the route.

All riders will be required to wear a helmet and all children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

There will be a post ride breakfast by the CrepeMaker and medals will be given to all participants after the ride.

To read additional information about organ and tissue donation visit and


  1. My daughter was a donar and there's no opion but to reycle your organ nd please give someone else a second chance to live 123 thousands of people on the waiting list please Sign up to be a donar like my daughter megan McCulloch was.

  2. Thank you, CJ! I am sorry to hear about Megan, but I do hope others will be willing to do what she did. I found a National Donor Memorial about her that I wanted to share: