The Second Chance Walk to promote awareness of organ donation will be held Sept. 27 at Twin Lakes Park. Event organizers are seeking corporate sponsorships from the local community.
The walk was established in August 2006 in memory of Kimberly Cecchini, who died in 2001 at age 16 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident, and her father, Fred Cecchini, who died on Christmas night in 1999 of a fatal heart attack. The Salem Township teen was an organ donor.
The walk raises funds for the Community Fund of Westmoreland County.
Proceeds of the walk go to nonprofit organizations that are approved by Second Chance organizers and the Community Fund of Westmoreland County. Since its inception, the walk has raised approximately $18,000.
Organizations that have received grants from the Second Chance Fund include the American Heart Association, the Center for Organ Recovery & Education, the National Kidney Foundation, the American Liver Association and The Children’s Institute.
One woman who has seen the impact of organ donation is Jami Slezak Pruitt of New Alexandria.
She became involved with the Second Chance Walk after she lost her son, David Slezak, in 2007 as the result of an automobile accident.
Slezak was a student at the Pennsylvania College of Technology and a graduate of the Eastern Westmoreland Vocational Technical School in Derry Township. He was an organ donor whose organs went to six individuals on waiting lists for organ transplants.
“Due to accident or illness, you or someone you love could become a donor or a recipient,” said Pruitt in a letter seeking sponsors. “Transplantation is about the hope that you give to people on the waiting list when you consent to donation.”
According to the Center for Organ Recovery & Education’s website:
• By donating organs, one individual can help up to eight people, while tissue donors can improve the lives of up to 50 people.
• Each day, 1 million people await tissue and cornea transplants, while every 10 minutes someone new is added to the organ list.
• More than 10,000 people die each year who qualify medically as organ donors, yet only a small percentage donate.
In her letter, Pruitt wrote, “there are currently 102,000 people on the national transplant list. Seventeen of them will die today because they did not receive that life-saving transplant.”
Pruitt became involved with the Second Chance Walk in 2008. She credits Kimberly Cecchini’s mother, Malinda Cecchini-Sherid, with her work to increase awareness of organ donation.
“They help a lot of people with the funds raised, they raise a lot of money for several different organizations,” Pruitt said in an interview.
Event organizers are looking for sponsorship donations of $500. Donations are tax-deductible and will guarantee that the donor’s name or business name appears on T-shirts and advertisements for the Second Chance Walk.
The proceeds from corporate sponsorships will help cover the costs of event so that donations and other funds raised can go to the Community Fund of Westmoreland County.
Registration for the walk costs $20. Walkers can register individually or in teams of up to seven.
Corporate donations made out to the Community Fund of Westmoreland County can be mailed to Jami Slezak Pruitt at 177 Todd Lane, New Alexandria, PA 15670.
For more information about the Second Chance Walk, visit its website at www.secondchancewalk.com.
Kaidia Pickels is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.