The University of Toledo and Life Connection of Ohio will hold their fourth annual Rockets for Life game to promote awareness for organ donation. The men’s basketball team will host Buffalo in Savage Arena Friday, Feb. 14, in a 6:30 p.m. tipoff that will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.
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 Men’s Basketball Coach Tod Kowalczyk, UToledo staff and Life Connection of Ohio volunteers by wearing neon green and navy to show their support for the cause.
Life Connection will give away green pom-poms and glowsticks to all fans and Rockets For Life PopSockets to students. Tom Doerger, who is the father of Rocket football player Luke Doerger, also will be recognized during the game. Doerger received a life-saving liver transplant last fall.
“Life Connection of Ohio is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with University of Toledo Athletics and Coach Kowalczyk for our fourth 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, Continental Basketball Association and National Basketball Association 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 and that’s why this is such an important cause for me,” Kowalczyk said. “We have been fortunate to play on national television the last three years on this special night and that’s been great to showcase the work 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 112,000 people on the national transplant waiting list; this includes 3,100 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 125 more through tissue donation.
Life Connection of Ohio is the nonprofit 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 93 donors, providing 310 life-saving transplants. For more information or to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, visit Life Connection of Ohio’s website.
Tickets for the game are available for the special price of $14 and $10 if purchased prior to game day with the promo code RFL. For tickets, visit the Toledo Men’s Basketball Ticket Central website, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), or stop by the Rocket Ticket Office.