Run for Life Organ Donation Fund

To summarize our understanding of the “Run For Life” Fund:

Purpose:  The Purpose of the Run For Life Organ Donation Fund is to assist organ transplant patients with medical costs, prescription and mileage expenses, as well as assist potential organ donors with travel expenses. All monies will stay in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Process: Proceeds for the Run for Life Fund are raised year round, with the largest portion of money being raised at the annual “Run For Life” event each summer.  To qualify for philanthropic funding through the Superior Health Foundation, patients must meet the following criteria:

  • Submit an application form available at SHF or below.
  • Transplant patients will be permitted to “apply” for philanthropic funding to help cover unpaid medical expenses relative to medical costs, prescription and mileage expenses, with the maximum annual award being $1,000. Potential organ donors can apply to assist with travel expenses (mileage, meals and lodging), with the maximum annual award being $500.
  • A three-person review committee, consisting of Run For Life Organizer Amy Harju, the Superior Health Foundation Executive Director and the Chair of the SHF Community Needs/Grants Committee will review the applications monthly and recommend funding.
  • Requests for disbursement of donated funds will be made by the Run For Life Organizer on behalf of the Superior Health Foundation following the existing Foundation procedures.
  • A Run For Life Fund will be established in the Superior Health Foundation, of which donors may contribute charitable gifts.

Success Stories

SHF Organ Donation Fund Helps Calumet Resident

CALUMET – No one has to tell Nabil Reyes of Calumet the importance of the Organ Donation Fund offered through the Superior Health Foundation.

Recently, the 33-year-old kidney transplant patient needed to travel to the University of Wisconsin in Madison to meet with the transplant team to be considered for a new kidney. A native of Puerto Rico but a resident of the Upper Peninsula since 2011, Reyes has been unable to work due to his health issues and is awaiting Social Security eligibility.

Encouraged by a friend, Reyes applied for funding through the Superior Health Foundation’s Run For Life Organ Donation Fund and was awarded $750. That money covered the cost of several nights lodging in Madison, along with mileage and meal expenses for the trip. “We are so thankful. You have no idea what you have done for him,” said family friend Craig Nuottila, who accompanied Reyes on the trip. “He was so stressed about this trip and how to afford it…. a hard thing to do with no income. He is very relieved to have the trip done and over with. He couldn’t have done it without you.” Reyes is now awaiting word on whether he is a candidate for a new kidney.

The Superior Health Foundation’s Run for Life Organ Donation Fund assists qualifying organ transplant patients and organ donors in the Upper Peninsula with out-of-pocket expenses. The Run for Life Organ Donation Fund is set up to assist organ transplant patients with medical costs, prescription and mileage expenses, as well as assist potential organ donors with travel expenses. All monies will stay in the Upper Peninsula.

The fund was borne out of the volunteer work done by Amy Harju of Marquette, who organized the inaugural Run For Life walk/run in the summer of 2012. The event has now evolved into an annual event, with this year’s Run For Life scheduled for Saturday, June 7, at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette.

The Superior Health Foundation acts as the charitable fundraising arm for U.P. Run For Life. SHF Executive Director Jim LaJoie said part of the Foundation’s mission is to assist residents of the Upper Peninsula with unmet healthcare needs and organ donation and the lives it saves fits into the mission. “The Superior Health Foundation supports organ donation and applauds the efforts of U.P. Run For Life,” he said. “It recognizes the need to help alleviate the costs eligible transplant patients and donors may occur.”

Criteria for the Organ Donation Fund, as well as an online application form, can be found on the SHF website. The maximum annual award for transplant patients is $1,000, with the maximum annual award for organ donors being $500.

If interested in supporting the fund with a philanthropic gift, please visit the Superior Health Foundation website or call 906-225-6914.

Republic woman receives assistance from SHF

For two years, Kristen Manier, center, of Republic has been undergoing peritoneal dialysis at home and through Fresenius Medical Care at UP Health Systems-Marquette. Manier’s kidneys failed in 2012 and has been on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.

To help relieve some of the stress and anxiety Manier, 31, experiences in traveling 30 miles each way three times a week to undergo dialysis, along with tending to two young children, the Superior Health Foundation provided Manier with a gas card and two restaurant gift certificates. The funding came from the Run for Life Organ Donation Fund, a fund established a year ago to provide charitable support for organ donors and recipients to help with out-of-pocket expenses.

In the photo, Amy Harju, organizer of the annual Run For Life walk/run and Jim LaJoie, executive director of the Superior Health Foundation, present Manier with flowers and certificates.

To learn more about the Organ Donation Fund, visit

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