Meet our managers
Meet Tonya Gomez, our Team Ohio Co-Manager for the Toledo and Dayton area. Tonya received the gift of life in the form of a double lung transplant on 5/25/04 due to Cystic Fibrosis at Cleveland Clinic. 15 years later, she is thankful to her donor, Adam, and his family for saying yes to donation. With her life saving gift, Tonya has been able to see her son, Eric, enter his senior year of high school. Tonya has participated in the Transplant Games since 2006 competing in track and field, badminton, table tennis, basketball, volleyball, ballroom dancing, and the 5K run/walk. Tonya feels earning medals is just a bonus that she has been fortunate to achieve. She has given her medals to her donor family in honor of her donor Adam.
Meet our Co-Manager for the Cincinnati area, Joe Grigsby. When we asked him about why he was involved in Team Ohio, here is what he had to say.- "I knew I would need a transplant to be able to extend my life due to cystic fibrosis, but I never knew life after transplant would be this good. I got involved with Team Ohio just months after my transplant because I wanted to show others what the power of transplant was. After transplant I knew I wanted to do something to use my new lungs to not only keep them healthy but to honor my donor. When my wife and I attended our first games in Houston, just talking to others, sharing our stories, and hanging out with people who truly understood what the gift of life, was the biggest highlight. Because of that experience, I knew I wanted to get more involved. Since my mother is also a recipient and received the gift of sight with a cornea transplant, my family wants to do all we can to help others who may be waiting for their gift. I am looking forward to meeting even more members of the team in June and the fun of competition to use the gift I was given. Go Team Ohio!"
Meet Lexi Schultz, our Team Ohio co-manager for the Columbus Area. Lexi is a liver recipient from Toledo who was given the gift of life on October 18th, 2005. However, her journey did not begin there. Lexi has struggled with a variety of auto-immune diseases and chronic pain from a very young age. Her first diagnosis being hypothyroidism, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis shortly after. Despite these bumps in the road, Lexi maintained a normal childhood and regularly participated in sports and art classes. Fast forward to the summer before she was set to begin her freshman year of high school, Lexi suddenly and rapidly fell ill with ulcerative colitis. Despite different courses of aggressive treatment, Lexi required a total colectomy in the summer of 2005. Things seemed to be looking up, as life with an ostomy was manageable and temporary. However, after her ostomy reversal surgery, Lexi went into liver failure and was very sick, again.
Lexi was placed on the top of the pediatric and adult transplant waiting list just days after meeting the transplant team at University of Michigan. During a hospital stay, a mere 4 days after being placed on the waiting list, Lexi was told there was a match for her. The transplant was successful, but not without complication. Her liver was rejecting. The months after transplant were full of hospital stays, appointments, and labs. The road to recovery was long and bumpy, but she got there.
Lexi's passion for advocacy and volunteering ended up being the thing that brought her and her donor family together. She was an ambassador for The Arthritis Walk, and her donor family came to participate in the walk and meet for the first time. They have stayed in touch and have spent some very special moments together, including Mother's Day and a family wedding. Lexi has since become an ambassador for LifeLine of Ohio and an active member of Team Ohio. The 2014 Transplant Games of America in Houston, TX were her first games and she has since attended them. She has won Gold and Silver medals in the cycling events and hopes to compete in more new events in the 2020 games. Spreading awareness, meeting new people, and sharing stories are what made her fall in love with The Games. The memories and relationships she has made at each games will be in her heart forever, and she looks forward to attending The Games for many years to come!
Meet our liasons
Meet Edward Drake II, our Team Ohio Minority & Diversity Liaison who is a kidney recipient. Just before Edward’s 21st birthday, during a routine physical, he received the disturbing news that both of his kidneys had completely failed and he would have to begin dialysis the very next day. During the duration of his dialysis treatments, he often questioned, “why me, why now?” Then he realized, “why not me? Why not apply my experiences to offer hope to others and to help others fight organ failure and other life threatening illnesses as I am doing?” Through pain, fear, and faith, along with a passion to help youth like himself, Edward was inspired to form The YNOTT? Foundation (Youth Needing Organ & Tissue Transplants). Success was given a new meaning.
On October 8th, 2008 Edward received a kidney transplant. He was extremely pleased to see the kindness of others and his faith had paid off. He held The YNOTT? Foundation and his commitment to helping others responsible for his blessing. Edward believes he was rewarded a second chance at life and has made it his life mission to help impact the lives of others.
The 2014 transplant games in Houston,Texas was Edward’s first appearance at the games. He won the Gold medal in high jump with a record breaking jump. He’s extremely excited to participate in this year’s game and avenge TEAM OHIO early tournament loss to Team Philadelphia in Basketball. Edward said “the transplant games means the world to me! It’s an opportunity for me to spread awareness about the importance of organ & tissue donation. I have the privilege to represent the great state of OHIO, my donor family, and my foundation in a great way. Most importantly, I get the pleasure of being able to share experiences with individuals like myself whose lives have been impacted by organ failure and/or organ donation”.
Meet Matt Arrasmith, Team Ohio Tissue/Cornea Liaison and a double tissue recipient. Matt’s connection to donation is a unique one. At the age of 14 he was very active and had just finished up the 8th grade football season. Matt had a goal of completing an upcoming half marathon and began training for it. It was at that time that he started to experience pain in his knee. After visiting the doctor and undergoing tests, and an eventual biopsy, Matt’s world was turned upside down. A week after his 15th birthday Matt was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, called chondrosarcoma, in his left femur. He was told that he would have to undergo a round of surgeries and that it was possible that he could lose his leg at the hip.
There was a silver lining, however. Because the tumor was contained inside the bone there was a new procedure that could be performed to salvage Matt’s leg. It involved removing the 6-inch portion of bone containing the tumor and replacing it with donor bone and a titanium plate and screws. After two surgeries, the procedure was a success. Matt’s leg was saved because someone made the selfless decision to be a donor.
Later, in 2011, Matt went on to have another 3 surgeries to address failing hardware that held the donor bone in place and received a second amazing gift of life, in the form of another donor bone. The idea that two families had to experience tragedy so that he could have a better quality of life is not something that is lost on Matt. “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how different my life might have been without the kindness and generosity of two complete strangers and their families”, Matt said.
While competing in his first Transplant Games in Cleveland for Team Ohio in 2016, Matt won a silver medal in the golf competition and took home bronze in darts. Matt shared his thoughts on what The Transplant Games mean to him, “The Games give us a great opportunity to raise awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation. It also means so much to be able to meet new friends who have been through similar challenges and can relate to you.”
Meet Pat McEntee, Team Ohio Donor Registration Liaison. Pat was diagnosed with multiple congenital heart defects in 1996 that eventually led his heart to begin failing in 2011. In 2014 he was evaluated for transplant and immediately approved. Within two days of being listed, he had a left-ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted. For nearly three years, the LVAD kept him alive and healthy enough to await a still needed transplant. In July of 2017 he had a mild stroke caused by a clot in the LVAD, which raised the urgency to find a donor heart. Fortunately that call came less than a month later and on August 13, 2017 at the Cleveland Clinic, Pat received the gift he had waited 1068 days for. In 2016, Pat and his wife Amy attended the 2016 Donate Life Transplant Games of America in Cleveland as supporters. They both competed in and completed the 5k Gift of Life Walk/Run (Amy ran, Pat walked...very slowly). That was the only event they were eligible to participate in at the Games as supporters. Pat had the opportunity to compete for the first time as a recipient in the 2018 Transplant Games in Salt Lake City and is looking forward to the games in The Meadowlands, NJ July 17-22, 2020.
Tonya Gomez, Team Co-Manager (Toledo-Dayton-Cleveland area)
Joe Grigsby, Team Co-Manager (Cincinnati area)
Lexi Schultz, Team Co-Manager (Columbus area)