The 10th Annual Aspen Summit for Life event was this past weekend and Aspen Real Life was able to capture some footage from the Summit for Life dinner at the Hotel Jerome.
During these times when people are suffering and hatred tries it’s best to prevail over love, more and more people are finding ways to step up and actively get involved to help others. Chris Klug is one such man.
A tall handsome chiseled jaw stud of a man, Chris would be intimidating if he didn’t always have a smile on his face. Diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) in 1991, a rare degenerative bile duct condition where the only cure is a liver transplant, Chris was on the transplant waiting list for six years, and three months of those years he was at a critical state.
During that fragile time he vowed that if he made it through, he would do everything he could to help make a difference for the thousands of individuals waiting for a second chance at life like he had. Finally, Chris received his lifesaving liver transplant July 28, 2000.
Only 18 months after his transplant Chris won a Bronze medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics. The following year Chris started his foundation to help save lives and promote a healthy, active life post transplant. Founded in October of 2003, The Chris Klug Foundation is dedicated to promoting lifesaving organ and tissue donation and improving the quality of life for those touched by donation.
Once again this year, I was invited by my good friend Esther Blom-Geiserto attend the Summit for Life dinner this past weekend at The Hotel Jerome. Esther is an active participant and board member for the Chris Klug Foundation.
During the dinner, invited guest Edward Drake II spoke of why he founded his non-profit organization, YNOTT? (Youth Needing Organ and Tissue Transplants Foundation):
Just before my twenty-first birthday, during a routine physical, I was diagnosed with end-stage Renal Disease (Kidney Failure). Before long, I found myself adjusting to a life on dialysis. I often questioned, why me, why now? Then I realized, why not me? Why not apply my experiences to offer hope and to help others fight organ failure as I am doing? My passion to help youth like myself inspired me to form the YNOTT? Foundation. had a life saving kidney transplant, small non profit group, Ynott? I am currently transitioning into my second chance at life, as I received a kidney transplant October of 2008, from a stranger, who when asked, said “Yes” to becoming an organ and tissue donor! It is my life goal to deliver this same gift to others. I am deeply pleased to have the opportunity to help change and save lives through the YNOTT? Foundation and now I ask you to join me! With over 109,000 people awaiting a life saving organ transplant in the United States, over 13,000 children, there is a great need to raise awareness to organ and tissue donation. The YNOTT? Foundation actively seeks, and registers organ and tissue donors- hoping to decrease the number of deaths due to a lack of donors. Within the first two years of establishment, The YNOTT? Foundation has provided support to over 250 transplant candidates and recipients, been featured in more than 100+ media spotlights, and received a number of awards and honors for our services in the community.Edward Drake II
As always, the dinner was a celebration of life as well as a beautiful mingling of our caring and warm community. As Chris spoke about all he has been doing to save lives I thought about all the TED talks I have been listening to about compassion and this one by Buddhist roshi Joan Halifax stood out in my mind:
And what is fascinating is that compassion has enemies, and those enemies are things like pity, moral outrage, fear. And you know, we have a society, a world, that is paralyzed by fear. And in that paralysis, of course, our capacity for compassion is also paralyzed. The very word terror is global. The very feeling of terror is global. So our work, in a certain way, is to address this imago, this kind of archetype that has pervaded the psyche of our entire globe. Now we know from neuroscience that compassion has some very extraordinary qualities. For example: A person who is cultivating compassion, when they are in the presence of suffering, they feel that suffering a lot more than many other people do. However, they return to baseline a lot sooner. This is called resilience. Many of us think that compassion drains us, but I promise you it is something that truly enlivens us. Another thing about compassion is that it really enhances what’s called neural integration. It hooks up all parts of the brain. Another, which has been discovered by various researchers at Emory and at Davis and so on, is that compassion enhances our immune system. Hey, we live in a very noxious world. (Laughter) Most of us are shrinking in the face of psycho-social and physical poisons, of the toxins of our world. But compassion, the generation of compassion, actually mobilizes our immunity. You know, if compassion is so good for us, I have a question. Why don’t we train our children in compassion? (Applause) If compassion is so good for us, why don’t we train our health care providers in compassion so that they can do what they’re supposed to do, which is to really transform suffering? And if compassion is so good for us, why don’t we vote on compassion? Why don’t we vote for people in our government based on compassion, so that we can have a more caring world? In Buddhism, we say, “it takes a strong back and a soft front.” It takes tremendous strength of the back to uphold yourself in the midst of conditions. And that is the mental quality of equanimityBuddhist roshi Joan Halifax
This event is the Chris Klug Foundation’s largest fundraiser and is vital to the success of its mission. Every dollar raised can help us save lives. So step up and help to spread their message and make a difference for the 121,000+ people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. Make a donation and together we can help to save lives.
**We apologize for the poor quality as we were not expecting to video the event!