It wasn’t “Dancing with the Stars,” but it was a thrill for Monica Fox to ballroom dance her way to a medal at the 2018 Donate Life Transplant Games this month. Fox, a Flossmoor resident, and her dance partner, Vince Shavers, of Naperville, were offered dance lessons at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Naperville to prepare for the games. Both are kidney transplant recipients,
It wasn’t “Dancing with the Stars,” but it was a thrill for Monica Fox to ballroom dance her way to a medal at the 2018 Donate Life Transplant Games this month.
Fox, a Flossmoor resident, and her dance partner, Vince Shavers, of Naperville, were offered dance lessons at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Naperville to prepare for the games. Both are kidney transplant recipients,
“I thought it would be fun to do something like that,” Fox said. “We were pretty proud of ourselves. In short of six weeks and eight lessons and no time to practice outside of that, we did pretty well.”
Fox will be the first to admit “we were a little more novice than most” in the novice category, but they were smooth enough on the dance floor to win third place.
Fox and Shavers were two of 31 representatives on Team Illinois at the games in Salt Lake City, Utah. Participants can join in various sports events. The games are meant to encourage transplant recipients to stay healthy by keeping an active schedule.
It will be two years in November that Fox received a kidney. She is back to working and keeping a regular schedule but was thrilled to be selected for the team.
After receiving the kidney at UIC Medical Center, Fox took part in a post transplant fitness study and worked with a trainer for a year. Gift of Hope, a transplant organization, is “very supportive of that program” and recommended Fox for a Team Illinois slot.
“I’ve been progressing rapidly and doing well,” and through her transplant support group she and others are encouraged to be involved.
After transplant surgery, patients have to be cautious of their surroundings. Their bodies are accepting the new organ and they are monitored and on special medications.
But as time passes, “you don’t have to live in a bubble,” Fox stresses. “Initially when you first get transplanted your resistance is really, really low and you have a lot of restrictions. Some people can get stuck in that.
“This is a reminder that you got that second chance at life and to really live it. Don’t be stuck in the house afraid to do things.”
The competition had different events scheduled over the five days. Fox also competed in bowling, racquetball and a 5K race.
On the last day, Aug. 7, those present had a group photo taken in an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the most transplant recipients in one place.
“We had 540 that day,” Fox said. “There were more for the games but some had left already. It appears we broke that record.”
For Fox, getting to the games was “just a continuation of my miracle to have received this gift.” She is an advocate for and raises awareness about organ donation and kidney failure and kidney disease. “I’m able to express my gratitude this way,” she said.