Waunakee-DeForest rivalry takes back seat to save a life
DEFOREST/WAUNAKEE, Wis. — On Friday night, Waunakee and DeForest will face each other in the WIAA Division 2 Level 2 Playoffs. The Warriors and Norskies have been longtime rivals, but there comes a time where even that kind of clash takes a back seat.
DeForest defensive line coach Mark Olson was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease in April of 1999. He got a kidney transplant, but that kidney failed 15 years later. So he needed another one, and he spent three and a half years on dialysis.
Sometimes sports has to take a backseat.
— Melissa Y. Kim (@melissaykim) October 25, 2018
Finally, on Feb. 15, Mark found a match, and all he had to do was look to the opposite sideline – the Waunakee sideline.
Warriors offensive lineman Nathan Miller’s mom, Karen, is a kidney transplant coordinator at UW Health. She facilitated and organized the entire process at University Hospital.
Mark’s wife donated her kidney to the paired kidney exchange program so that Mark could get his, and it’s something he encourages everyone to do.
“If you want to do something giving, giving somebody 10 to 15, maybe even 20 years of their life back, I don’t know what else is better,” he said.
Mark feels as “back to normal” as he can be since the transplant surgery and is indebted to Karen.
“When somebody does something like what Karen Miller did, it is so hard to find a way to thank her,” he said. “Flowers, whatever, it’s not even close.”
After the regular season game between the Warriors and Norskies, Mark looked for Waunakee #58 – Nathan Miller.
“Well, to be honest, at first I thought I was in trouble,” said Nathan.
To which Mark replied, “I know your mom, Karen. She was the one that was able to get me a kidney. I shook his hand and said, ‘Thank you.'”
For more information on the paired kidney exchange program, go to the UW Health website.
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