Runners Hit Pavement For Organ Donation Awareness
by Brittany Shannon of the WISN12

Runners hit the pavement Saturday morning to take part in the first-ever Cream City 5K, an event organizers started to raise awareness about organ donation.

Organ transplant recipient Jesse Pagels founded the run and non-profit to promote organ donation.

Pagels, an avid runner and father of 5-year-old Hannah, was diagnosed with leukemia. He needed a lung transplant when Hannah was young.

He was eventually matched with a donor and received a double lung transplant. Now, he’s cherishing every moment with Hannah.

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Man who Survived Cancer and Double Lung Transplant Organizes Cream City 5K
By David Ade of the WDJT-Milwaukee

A man who survived cancer and a double lung transplant will showcase his success story at a new 5K run this weekend.

The first ever Cream City 5K will support organ donation

The race is here at Greenfield Park, but there’s more inspiration behind this race than just the love of running to a finish in the Chicago and the Boston Marathons.

Jesse Pagels organized this race after battling leukemia.

“No matter how fast or slow you are… I always got emotional when I finished,” said Jesse Pagels.

Pagels finished ten of them.

A bigger challenge came in 2003, when he found out he had leukemia.

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Altruistic Donor: Kathryn Kamm

Jon Morales was having dialysis five days a week due to end-stage renal failure. Desperate, but also determined to find a donor, he advertised on the back of his car, pamphlets, flyers, social media posts–anything to find a donor and gain his life back.

Kathryn came across his story & plight in the fall of 2016. It instantly struck a chord with her, as she couldn’t get it out of her mind–or heart. Finally, a few months later in January of 2017, she got tested to see if she could be a possible kidney donor for Jon. Unbelievably, she was a fantastic match.

Kathryn was an anonymous altruistic donor and the transplant was done via robotic-assisted kidney transplantation. Translation: WHOA.

Kathryn is back to her old self participating in triathlons and Jon is no longer on dialysis and is having a quality of life he hasn’t had in years.

Sallie Shea 

Life is tough, get a helmet!” Sallie Willett Shea’s mantra speaks volumes—now more than ever. Her story is not only incredible, but also apropos for so many of us right now. Take a breath. Be grateful. Don’t sweat the small stuff. 💚

In 2004, Sallie Shea was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, which is a progressive and incurable lung disease. It causes scarring in the lungs which over time, reduces their ability to take in oxygen. 💚

The only option for survival would be a double lung transplant. Sallie went on the waitlist at UW-Madison in May of 2004 and was facing a two-year wait, at the very minimum. Meanwhile, she was hooked up to an oxygen tank 24-7 and incurred other respiratory and sinus issues constantly. Along with the physical hardships, the emotional toll taken on Sallie and her husband Steve was also grueling. Life as they knew it was irrevocably changed. 💚

Sallie’s resilient spirit powered her through another four years of hardship and received a double lung transplant in February of 2008. She ended up finishing her nursing degree in 2011 that she started a decade earlier, and continued to volunteer, spend time with her niece, and husband Steve. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of immune suppressing drugs is getting cancer. Sallie was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2016 and spent the next year at St. Luke’s in treatment and has thankfully not had a reoccurrence of cancer since 2017.💚

Sallie is extremely grateful for her gift of life and her friends and family who have unequivocally supported and loved her through her many hardships.💚

“Please don’t take your organs to heaven, heaven knows we need them here.” –Sallie Willett Shea💚

Cheryl Berry & Christy Flores

Cheryl Berry and Christy Flores met in art class when they were 14 years old at Martin Luther High School. In fact, Christy played matchmaker and introduced Cheryl to her husband. Christy, Cheryl, and their husbands have been close friends since high school; they take trips together and all share a love of Disney. However, neither Christy or Cheryl realized how their special friendship would impact their lives.

Christy was not feeling well for about a year, but her symptoms were sporadic and were not debilitating–they were more annoying than anything. When she finally went to the doctor in preparation for a family trip in, her physical rendered astonishing results. She was in end stage renal disease–her kidneys were failing.

After the diagnosis, the first person she called was Cheryl, as Christy and her family grappled with the devasting and shocking news. In 2015, Christy got on the transplant list and continued to work while doing dialysis, which is a feat in itself. A few of Christy’s family members wanted to fill out paperwork to see if they could be a potential donor match. Cheryl also requested the paperwork. Several months went by and in July of 2016, Cheryl found out she was a perfect match for a kidney transplant for her dear friend Christy.

Christy is now healthy and living a full life once again. Cheryl’s recuperation was minimal and she bounced back quickly. Cheryl gained a whole new family and their friendship is stronger than ever. Christy, “Thanks God every day for the girl she sat next to in art class. She saved my life and I love her more than words can express.”


Live Love Donate

Live Love Donate Inc is an amazing 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to organ, tissue, and eye donation. Their organization is a family affair as it was created by sisters on behalf of their parents, Steve and Amy Muenchow. Steve received two kidney transplants, one from his wife Amy, but unfortunately succumbed to vasculitis several years ago. Live.Love.Donate is in memory of their father, but also to assist other organ donors and recipients in the organ transplant journey. There is an annual golf outing named after Steve held in September in Lake Geneva, WI. The golf outing will help raise money and awareness for the organ transplant community. 

We thankLive Love Donate Inc for their effort, support, and comradery in promoting and educating about organ donation.

Team Krazy

We are lucky to have so many teams that participate in the Cream City 5K. It is a wonderful way to support organ donation and have fun at the same time. Nikki Krzyzanowski has been participating since the race’s inception, but two years ago, Team Krazy was created for Nikki’s father, Dave. In 2017, Dave was diagnosed with cancer and after intensive chemotherapy, a liver transplant was the next best step. After second opinions and false alarms, ( getting a transplant call, then it not working out) Dave got the news one day before the CC5K last year—a match was made.

“It sounds cliche, but there are not enough ‘Thanks or Thank you’s’ we can give to the donor family. We are forever grateful for my dad to have received his gift of life and we continue to walk to raise awareness for those still waiting. Organ donation makes memories like the photos attached, possible.” –Nikki K.

Get a team together and walk/run for the Cream City 5K in April. Team Krazy would love to have you join.

How do I donate? 

March is National Kidney Month and we want to lift up a story shared by Sarah Joehl Richards. Her family friend Charles is in need of a kidney and needs your help. Sarah is not only a supporter of organ donation but a donor herself. She donated a kidney to her sister Claudia in 2003 and her parents and sister, Hillarie are also donors. Being a living donor, she can speak to the process, impact, and the joy, organ donation has brought her and her family. Where to start?

*Head to to UW Health’s Transplant page,…/donate-kidney or Froedtert’s,…/kid…/living-donor/how-to-donate…

*Blood Type matters, ( Charles is O btw) but one could be a match for someone else and could do a paired exchange.

*We need to increase the NUMBER of people on the kidney registry. Just checking the box on your license, doesn’t indicate that you are willing to be a living donor.

Consider filling out the registration form and sharing this post! Charles and his family will be forever grateful! And, of course, sign up for the Cream City 5K in April! 

Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin and Dawn Lyons-Wood

Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin is one of our fantastic sponsors and Dawn Lyons-Wood has had an incredible impact on the donation community. Her daughter Emily donated her organs that helped over 70 individuals.

Register today and help share Emily’s story and assist many others to receive the gift of life. #creamcity5K #donatelife #livelife #givelife

Heidi Prodoehl: Needing a kidney transplant ( March 2020) 

This is Heidi Prodoehl and her story will be featured on WISN Channel 12 tonight. She was the National Kidney Foundation People’s Choice Winner and their dance competition winner for their Spotlight on Life gala. Heidi is a nurse in the transplant unit at Froedert Hospital, but due to medication taken for a previous transplant, she now needs a kidney transplant.

Please watch Heidi’s story tonight, check out her Facebook page, ‘Heidi’s Spotlight on Life Dancing experience,’ and sign up for the Cream City 5K to help Heidi and so many others receive the help they so dearly need.

Colette Shumpert 

Colette Shumpert is many things, including a pastor, coach, public speaker, and friend. First and foremost though, she is a devoted mother who has made it her life’s work keeping her son’s legacy alive.

Her son Michael passed away in 2012 and she had one last decision to help him make. As a mother, she wanted to make the best choice possible and for her, that was to donate his organs.

Not only does Michael live on in the lives of others, but Colette wanted to help and give back to grieving parents, especially mothers. We Loved and Lost has a prayer breakfast for mothers every Mother’s Day weekend, with the next one on Saturday, May 9, 2020.

Colette is also a dynamic public speaker forVersiti Blood Center of Wisconsin, facilitates workshops, mentors others, and will have the second retreat for grieving mothers held at the Shalom House in West Bend.
Check out her Facebook page, We Loved and Lost for more information regarding Colette and her outreach opportunities.

Additionally, help Colette and many others raise awareness for organ, tissue, and eye donation, by signing up for the Cream City 5K on April 25!

Jesse Pagels 

One whole hand! The Cream City 5K has been promoting organ, tissue, and eye donation with a 5K run/walk in Greenfield Park every April for the last five years. We are so grateful to be a part of the community and want to spread the word about this event near and far. Run or walk on Saturday, April 25 for organ donation awareness and for Donate Life Month! Spread the word. Sign up. Share Jesse’s Story. Live Life, Give Life.

Watch the Video—–   CC5K

Fox 6 News Milwaukee

Froedtert Medical College of Wisconsin

Cream City 5K is thrilled to partner with Froedert & Medical College of Wisconsin for the race on April 27th.

“The Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin health network is proud to support the Cream City 5K, raising awareness of the importance of registering to be an organ, tissue and eye donor. The Transplant Center at Froedtert Hospital offers exceptional care for adults who need heart, kidney, liver, lung and pancreas transplants. Since our first organ transplant in 1967, we have given a second chance at life to thousands of people. Our nationally recognized team of researchers and experts advance transplant care every day so even more of our friends, family members and neighbors can receive the gift of life.” 

Ascension St. Francis Hospital 

At Ascension St. Francis Hospital and Ascension Franklin Hospital, they see patients of all ages from Milwaukee County and surrounding communities. At each patient visit, the doctor begins with listening. By understanding the patient and their health, they work with them to customize a care plan to meet each patient’s unique needs.

“In 2018, Ascension St. Francis Hospital was recognized by the Wisconsin Donor Network and Wisconsin Tissue Bank for the success of its organ and tissue recoveries. Through November 2017, 26 organs were recovered from seven donors. In addition, six donors shared 155 tissues, including bone, skin, heart valves, pericardium, and tendons, which will be processed into thousands of allografts.” ~Ascension Wisconsin

Thank you toAscensionfor your partnership, support, and all you do for our transplant community! We look forward to the Cream City 5K on April 27th!#giftoflife#donatelifeAscensionAscension#donatelifemonth#creamcity5K#run#runningmotivation

Altius Construction Management 

Altius is a family owned and operated small business, that specializes in construction management. They build apartment complexes to senior living facilities. We are thrilled to partner with them for the Cream City 5K on April 27th at Greenfield Park.

Many of their staff have been affected by organ, tissue, and/or eye donation and are intimately aware of the impact this event has on supporting organ donation.

The ownership of Altius Building Company are lifelong friends of the Sorenson family, who experienced immeasurable grief with the loss of Kellan Carter Sorenson in December of 2015. Kellan donated his organs to improve the lives of others and will forever be a superhero in their eyes.

“Altius thanks all donors like Kellan and their families that have been participating in the Cream City 5K since it’s inception.”

Thank you, Altius for your partnership and support in promoting organ donation and Donate Life Month at the Cream City 5K in April! Altius Building Company BloodCenter of Wisconsin #creamcity5k #giftoflife #organdonation Becky Gonwa

Corneal Transplantation & Lions Eye Bank 

Did you know corneal transplantation is one of the most frequently performed human transplant procedures?

Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin is one of our partners for the Cream City 5K on April 27th and is committed to the transplant community and to improving individuals’ quality of life through the gift of sight. They are nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and “team of professionals and volunteers, dedicated to the mission of restoring the gift of sight through recovery and transplantation of corneas, research to advance the knowledge and treatment of eye diseases, and education to increase donations.”

We are so grateful for their partnership and honored to be working with them. Sign up for the Cream City 5K! Do it before April 2nd when prices go up.

Taylor Skendziel

Taylor Skendziel was a softball player, a Girl Scout, and a great student. In June of 2016, 17-year-old Taylor was in a car accident and tragically passed away. Her organs were donated as, “there was no question in our minds what we needed to do,” said Michelle her mother. Her parents, Michelle and Glenn, siblings, and extended family & friends have found a way to remember Taylor and honor her memory. Team Taylor was set up in her memory, in addition to a scholarship and a fundraiser. Her family tries to give back around her birthday, during the holidays and around the time of accident to places like the Veteran’s Food Pantry & and HOPES Center of Racine. Angel on the Diamond, their team for the Cream City 5K is one of our biggest teams and supporters. Thank you Skendziel family and all of your family and friends who not only remember Taylor, but also help promote organ, tissue, and eye donation. We look forward to seeing you on April 27th at the Cream City 5K!

Nikki Krzyzanowski & Team Krazy ( her dad got the transplant! )

Nikki Krzyzanowski has been involved and an advocate for organ & tissue donation in both her personal and professional life. She was an ICU nurse and involved with Aurora Donor Council & Champion groups. Her mother was a team member with the transplant surgical team at Aurora and has also supported the donor community for years. Nikki has organized teams for walks and runs before, but Team Krazy originated due to her father being diagnosed with liver cancer. For Nikki, her friends, & family, this has become a personal crusade, as her father needs a full liver transplant. We want to thank Team Krazy for their unfaltering support of organ, tissue, & eye donation and the Cream City 5K. We look forward to seeing them in April and hope to assist her father in receiving his much-needed organ transplant.

Kellan Sorenson

Kellan Carter Sorenson was an energetic, rambunctious, three-in-a-half-year-old little boy who filled his house full of laughter and noise, with the help of his brother Kaydin. He loved to have dance parties after dinner and play Godzilla to his brother’s train designs. This affectionate ball of energy passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from bacterial meningitis a few short years ago.

The Sorenson & Gonwa families lost their beloved superhero, but Kellan’s impact was everlasting. His family donated his organs so other individuals can give Eskimo kisses, be a meddlesome loveable little brother, and have kitchen dance parties.

We are honored to officially name the kids’ fun run in memory of Kellan. His family holds a special place in their heart for both the donors and recipients that have the courage, strength, and tenacity to keep going. They are all superheroes–just like Kellan.

Sign up for Kellan’s Fun Run at the Cream City 5K on April 27th at Greenfield Park! (Ok, sign up a kiddo you know that has energy to burn and loves to run!)

Wayne and Andrea Bohlmann 

Wayne and Andrea Bohlmann were visiting Central America when Andrea became seriously ill. Both retired educators, Andrea and Wayne are avid travelers who have a penchant for culture, adventure, and new experiences. Andrea was rushed back to the states where they learned her antibodies attacked her kidneys and both were now failing. Wayne administered dialysis to Andrea for over a year, approximately twenty hours a week. They didn’t let dialysis get them down, as they went on a cruise, visited friends out of state, and went to Disney World. In January of 2016, Andrea received a pretty remarkable gift from her doting husband–she received a kidney from Wayne. Andrea is now happier and healthier than ever, as she and Wayne continue their adventures. ( They just got back from the Dominican Republic)

Because it’s ‘Smallwaukee,’ Wayne Bohlmann was Kristin Marx’s high school cross country coach at Menomonee Falls High School. Kristin had a heart transplant in January of 2001 and Wayne donated his kidney to his wife in 2016. They now share another thing in common besides the love of running.  

Morning Blend…/the-m…/a-5k-supporting-organ-donation

Hillarie Joehl 

In honor of Blue & Green Day for Donate Life, the testimonial from Hillarie Joehl speaks volumes! Support organ, tissue, and eye donation and sign up for the Cream City 5k on April 28th! Can’t wait to see you there!!

“I have an unique perspective on organ donation as a living kidney donor to my brother, one of four living donors in my family, and as a nurse practitioner. Growing up with two siblings with life-threatening kidney disease necessitating transplants as children, I was keenly aware that at some point in my early adult life my siblings might again require kidney transplant. I was also aware that I might be in a position to be a donor. At the age of 25, I donated a kidney to my brother, who remains healthy today.

In the years immediately following the transplant I completed a second bachelor’s degree in nursing, became a critical care nurse and then a nurse practitioner. I’ve had the opportunity to care for patients and families who make the thoughtful decision to donate their loved one’s organs after catastrophic brain injury and death. I’ve also had the opportunity to care for patients and families who are the recipients of life saving/life altering organs. Both donor families and organ recipients share a profound sense of gratitude: the donor families for the opportunity to support life and find some meaning in the loss of their family member; and the recipients for another chance at life.

As I reflect on my personal and professional experiences, awesome is the word that best reflects my feelings around organ donation and transplant.”

The Joehl Family 

“Being a living donor is a honor. Organ donation has brought our family together in so many ways — we don’t talk about it very often because it’s just normal to us — but when I stop and think about it, it’s pretty exceptional. I am very grateful to my parents for setting the example they have and for leading the way, and to my sister Hillarie for following their lead and giving life to Jake, too. We are thankful for every day!” —–Sarah Richards

For the Joehl family, organ donation is a family affair. Organ donation for their family was never if, but rather, when.

Ray and Julia Joehl have seven children: Jake, Hillarie, Timothy, Claudia, Hannah, Sarah, and Sam. The family grew up in the Chicago suburbs where Dr. Joehl is a general surgeon and Julia Joehl is a retired special education teacher. Two of the siblings were born with congenital polycystic kidneys and unfortunately had further physical afflictions that needed attention. Jake and Claudia needed to have kidney transplants–not just one, but two, as the average life-span for a kidney transplant is fifteen years. Their parents donated one each when Jake and Claudia were little, and sisters Hillarie and Sarah each donated a kidney about seventeen years later.

Julia (mom) donated a kidney to Jake in 1984
Ray (dad) donated a kidney to Claudia in 1985
Hillarie (sister) donated a kidney to Jake in 2001
Sarah donated a kidney to Claudia in 2003

Support the Joehl family and so many others by signing up for the Cream City 5k on April 28th at Greenfield Park!


Leah Shaffer

” I really want to let people know the amazing impact the gift of transplant had on me, his wife. I know that I could have picked an easier life than one of transplant recipient’s wife, but I am so glad I didn’t. Because of the gift of transplant, I am a wife, I became a mom, and I became an advocate. None of that could be possible if it wasn’t for my husband’s transplant. One family’s gift not only changed lives, but created a family.” –Leah Shaffer

Leah Shaffer’s husband Gary had Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), which is a rare, incurable disease that compromises your liver, kidneys, and can cause other ailments like colitis. Unfortunately, Gary passed away two years ago in 2017. Leah and the kids go camping every summer as a fun reminder and celebration of their dad and husband. In addition, Leah donates her time for the Donor Network and the Blood Center of Wisconsin. Raising awareness for organ, tissue, and eye donation was intrinsically important to both Gary and Leah.

Kristin Marx

Growing up, Kristin didn’t remember a time when she wasn’t a runner. She did track and field in middle school, joined cross country in high school, she ran for fun in college. I was always healthy and active. That’s why in March/early April 2000 when she started feeling sick, it was really out of the ordinary. Her illness progressed very rapidly and general practitioners had a hard time figuring out what was wrong. Finally one urgent care doctor did a chest x-ray and determined that mher heart was enlarged. I was given no other details and was then referred to a cardiologist.

On April 27, 2000, Kristin was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. From that point on, she was in and out of the hospital over the course of the year. It was then determined over multiple visits, procedures, and exams that she would be hospitalized until she could receive a heart transplant.

On December 15, 2000 just eight days before her 21st birthday, she got a call that a donor heart was available. After they ran a battery of tests it was determined to not be a good match due to the donor having early signs of coronary artery disease. She spent her 21st birthday in the hospital worried she wouldn’t see her next birthday.

In the early hours of January 12, 2001, my night nurse came into my room and woke her up–a heart was available. Her grandmas wanted nothing more than to see their granddaughter live another year and receive the gift of life. Their wish was granted.

Kristin now has her future ahead of her. She graduated college, married her best friend Josh, travels, and even started running again. Almost twenty years has passed since her life-saving procedure and she is beyond grateful. Running half-marathons and traveling around the world are things she only dreamed of, that are now a reality. She continues to advocate and donate her time for organ donation throughout Wisconsin and at several running events and races.

Kim Hill

Kim Hill has been a runner her entire life. Last summer, she was diagnosed with a torn meniscus and had surgery to fix it. However, when the surgeon went in, he found she had defective cartilage in her kneecap.  After months of pain and weighing all the options, she decided to have all the cartilage in her knee replaced. The fancy name is called an Osteochondral Allograft Transplant. She received the cartilage from an 18-year-old donor and Kim has vowed not to take the gift for granted. Kim is dedicated not only to the sport of running, but to an organization called whoirun4. I Run 4, Inc. – IR4 that pairs individuals together to raise awareness for the buddy’s physical, emotional, or medical need. Kim’s buddy is a girl named JJ who has Rhett syndrome and cannot walk or talk, and will soon lose the ability to use her arms. Kim is her voice, legs, and companion when running. Kim’s goal once she’s healthy is to run a 5k in JJ’s hometown.

Kim is a fierce advocate for organ, tissue, and eye donation and we can’t wait to see her at the race in April.

Lenny Zwieg
When Lenny Zwieg went to a Brewers game in April 2018, he never imagined he would leave with a new kidney, but that is exactly what happened. He donned a shirt that said, ‘Father of 3 Needs A Kidney’ and someone snapped a pic. The photo went viral and before he blinked, he was scheduled to get a new kidney in November of 2018. After two years on dialysis and four years on the transplant waitlist, he has his life back. He will be throwing out the first pitch at a Brewers game this coming spring and has become the ultimate promoter of organ, tissue, and eye donation. He and his family and friends participated in the Cream City 5k last year and we can’t wait to see them again. We especially can’t wait to see Lenny—healthier than ever.


Meet BioCut, one of the Cream City 5K’s sponsors. This Milwaukee-based company manufactures biological processing equipment. Tissue banks and processors use the equipment to shape and mold the tissue to best fit the needs of the patient.

One size doesn’t fit all. Breast reconstruction and hernia repair are very different and the same size and shape of a tissue scaffold won’t work–that’s where BioCut comes in. The ’tissue scaffolds’ must be carefully constructed and BioCut makes the tools to do this effectively–ultimately aiding in human healing and recovery. 

BioCut is passionate about not only raising awareness for organ, eye, and tissue donation, but being involved in the donor community. We thank them for their support and look forward to partnering with them!

Judges JoAnn Eiring & Derek Mosely
These two. Such an amazing story. Judge Derek Mosley received a kidney from close friend, Judge JoAnn Eiring in summer of 2016, They both participated in the Cream City 5k last year.
“This just proves that no matter what you think about color or background or economic status or all those things, here’s this woman from Brookfield and this kid from the south side of Chicago and I’m about to get her kidney so I can live,” Mosley said. “And we are as compatible as anything else. To me, it’s just amazing.”–Bill Glauber, Journal Sentinel