The University of Toledo and Life Connection of Ohio are holding their third annual "Rockets for Life" game this week to promote awareness for organ donation in Northwest Ohio. The Rockets host No. 24 Buffalo in Savage Arena on Friday, Feb. 15 in a 7:00 p.m. tipoff that will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
Before and during the game, Savage Arena will be flooded with Donate Life messages, including videos, announcements, on-court features and promotions. Fans are encouraged to join Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk, UT staff and Life Connection of Ohio volunteers by wearing neon green and navy to show their support for the cause. In addition, 4,000 neon green Rockets for Life t-shirts sponsored by Coke, Life Connection of Ohio and the Sign Lady will be given away.
"Life Connection of Ohio is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with University of Toledo Athletics and Coach Kowalczyk for our third annual 'Rockets for Life' event," said Kara Steele, Life Connection of Ohio's Director of Community Services. "The goal of Rockets for Life is to raise awareness about the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation. There are countless people touched by organ, eye and tissue donation in our community, and we look forward to honoring those who gave the gift of life and celebrating with those who received a second chance at life through this event."
Organ donation is something that has touched Kowalczyk personally. One of his best friends, Trey Schwab, received 12 additional years of life because of a double lung transplant. Trey, who coached at the college, CBA and NBA levels, passed away in 2016 waiting for another transplant.
"A 19-year-old young man and his family gave Trey and 14 other people an opportunity to live," Kowalczyk said. "I couldn't be a bigger supporter of organ donation and the work that Life Connection of Ohio is doing. I think it's vital that we spread the word for people to become organ donors. I certainly am a donor, and my family and all our players are as well."
An awareness event like "Rockets for Life" couldn't come at a more crucial time. Currently, there are more than 115,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, including 3,000 Ohioans. The organ shortage continues to grow at a staggering rate, as another person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. Sadly, 20 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. The good news: One person has the power to save up to eight lives through organ donation and heal 50 more through tissue donation.
Life Connection of Ohio is the non-profit organization that has promoted and facilitated organ donation in northwest and west central Ohio for more than 25 years. Last year, Life Connection of Ohio coordinated the recovery of organs from 74 donors, providing 233 life-saving transplants. For more information or to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, visit www.lifeconnectionofohio.org.
Tickets for the game are available for the special price of $8.00 if purchased prior to game day with the promo code RFL. For tickets, visit www.utrockets.com, call 419-530-GOLD (4653) or stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office. Fans can click on this link to purchase tickets.