I've spent a fair amount of my career around race cars, race tracks and race car drivers. One of the best things is getting to know the drivers. One of the worst things is getting to know the drivers.
Racing is an inherently dangerous sport, and over the years I've attended memorials for drivers who died in the sport they loved. Sometimes having made a connection to that person makes you wish you hadn't.
But not really, because racing is so much more than cars on a track
Often deaths in a sport bring about some change in safety, or more recently a movement.
In 2016, Bryan Clauson died as a result of injuries he sustained in a midget open wheel race car. His family made the decision to donate his organs.
From Clauson's death, five people received the gift of life and seventy five received tissue to help aid in their healing.
The Clauson family started a campaign named Chasing 200 (Clauson's tour so named to reach his goal his goal of competing in 200 races in the 2016 season) to officially register 200 organ donors.
Clauson created a connection with everyone he met, and those who had crossed paths with the man responded. Within 24 hours, the goal of 200 turned into 2000, and within a few more months, the registry gained another 5000 names.
Justin Wilson, a driver in the IndyCar series, died in August of 2015 from a race-related incident in Pocono. Wilson's donation saved five lives as well. His brother Stefan partnered with the Indiana Donor Network, and the Driven2SaveLives campaign became a reality.
From that campaign, the group expanded to include promotion at dirt tracks all over the country and partnered with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to raise awareness of the need for organ donation.
Every ten minutes, another person is added to transplant waiting list. Sadly, twenty two people die every day in the U.S. waiting for a life-saving organ. At least 118,000 people nation wide are waiting for an organ transplant.
Tissue donation includes bone, skin, and veins which aid in numerous procedures including reconstructive surgeries, spinal fusions, the healing of burns, and reestablishing circulation.
Registering to be an organ donor takes less than thirty seconds. While you can choose to have the information on your driver's license, registering is one more way to verify your wishes.
In the state of Indiana, roughly 74 percent of the state's population are registered donors and more register every day.
While Clauson and Wilson possessed a humility preventing them from accepting the role of hero, they are heroes to the people who received their greatest gift.
Legacies in racing normally takes the form of records and performance, but these two incredible human beings have left the enduring legacy of life.
I carry on my driver's license my wish to be a donor, as does my husband on his. However, we took thirty seconds from our lives to be like Bryan Clauson and Justin Wilson.
I'm asking you to join us.
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