Dear Annie: At the age of 19, I was a normal girl who had just started college as a dance major with dreams of opening nights and curtain calls. But a few months into my college career, kidney failure ground my world to a halt. Sick and exhausted, I went home to be looked after by my parents and undergo dialysis treatments. Without them, I would have died. I no longer had the energy to do anything.
Luckily for me, live organ donation freed me from dialysis when my father generously volunteered to give me one of his kidneys. I resumed a mostly normal life, got back into shape, finished college and landed a job dancing with a touring show.
I'd never considered myself an athlete, but following my transplant, I heard about the National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games, taking place July 11-16 in Pittsburgh. The games are an Olympic-style athletic event for transplant recipients of all ages who compete in 13 different sports. I became determined to get into shape to show the world what transplantation makes possible.
I'll be competing for medals in track and field to showcase the lifesaving power of organ donation and encourage people to think about signing up as organ donors. Readers interested in learning more about the games or getting free organ donor cards and information can contact the National Kidney Foundation at 1-800-622-9010 or visit www.transplantgames.org. Emily Biondi, Baltimore, Md.
Dear Emily: Thank you for giving our readers this excellent information. We wish you the best of luck in your upcoming competitions.
Dear Annie: I work with a bunch of great women at a medical office. One in particular, "Nina," has a lot of good qualities but is lazy and very, very sneaky. If there's a way to get around something, she's your gal.
One thing that bothers everyone is that Nina often parks in a handicapped spot. She has a license plate allowing her to park in these designated areas but only if she has her mother with her. We have told her it's not right, seeing as we are in a medical building and patients who use wheelchairs and crutches come in all the time.
Nina just shrugs her shoulders. What's the law? Is there anything we can do to get her to see the light? Confused
Dear Confused: Most states have laws stating that a car with a handicapped license plate or placard can be parked in a handicapped space only if the disabled person is driving or a passenger. You have two ways to get Nina to stop: The first is to report the violation to Nina's superiors and let them deal with it. The other is to report her to the police and let her be fined. Of course, if you do this, she is sure to assume her co-workers turned her in, so be prepared. She is in the wrong. Don't let her make you feel guilty.
Dear Annie: I can relate to "Never (Ever) a Guy." I stand 6 foot 1, and with bright red hair, I stand out quite a bit. I've been called "Sir" many times. My job requires me to wear my hair back and my only jewelry is my earrings. I choose not to wear makeup.
I learned long ago not to let other people's comments bother me. I was picked on all through middle school, but it didn't happen as much in high school because I grew to love myself and have confidence. Yes, sometimes I wish I could look more feminine, but God makes everyone different and you have to learn to love yourself for who you are. People who pick on you will slowly stop when they know it won't get to you. Be strong. B.O.L.Dear B.O.L.: We truly appreciate the enormous amount of support from our readers on this subject, and we hope it's made a difference. Bless you for writing.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © Creators Syndicate Inc.