The family decided that April (National Donate Life Month) would be the best time to begin their adventure.
Sheri Greiner and her family -- husband Mike and kids Levi, 12, and Chloe, 9 -- are hitting the road on a one-year journey around the U.S. to raise awareness about organ donation. Mike's life was saved by an organ transplant, so they want to spread the word! Sheri spoke to momlogic before their epic journey.
momlogic: Could you tell us a little about what inspired your journey?
Sheri Greiner: My husband's lifesaving kidney-and-pancreas transplant 6½ years ago was our inspiration. We discovered that not only are we extremely blessed, but we're not guaranteed a tomorrow, and we need to pursue our dreams today. I have always wanted to experience this great country with my family, and we knew that our trip could help people who are waiting for transplants. We feel like we owe it to Annie, my husband's donor -- her memory, her family and those currently waiting for organ transplants.
ml: What does Annie's organ-donation mean to your family?
SG: Annie is our hero. Because she chose to be an organ donor before she died, we're still a family. Annie's gift of life means that I still have a husband to laugh with (and at), to dream with, to snuggle with, to cry with, to play with, to work with, to kiss -- AND my kids still have a father. Her gift means the world to me.
ml: Why is it so important to you that you spread the word?
SG: When my husband was on the transplant waiting list in 2003, he was one of 81,000 people on the list. As of January 2010, there were 105,000, and now -- just two months later -- it has increased to 106,495! It's easy to think of that as just a number, but it isn't: It's 106,495 PEOPLE waiting for a lifesaving transplant. Sadly, those numbers are increasing far too rapidly. We're going to do our best to do something about it. If more people registered and told their family, like Annie did, we could save lives and reduce the number of people on the list. We've tried to make it easy to register across the U.S.A. by going directly to http://donateLife.bestplacesintheusa.com.
ml: How long have you been planning this trip?
SG: I've had a dream of traveling to all 50 states for years, even before our kids were born. After the transplant, we had a reason for the trip since every state is different in how they register organ donors. We literally sat down and said, "If we're going to make this happen, what do we need to do to get there?" Our first step was to write each of the governors, telling them our story and asking them three questions:
1) What are the top things we need to see in your state?
2) What time of year is the best to visit?
3) What food is unique to your state that we must try?
You can view each of the governor's responses on their state's page at www.BestPlacesInTheUSA.com. Next, we started homeschooling.
ml: How long have you been homeschooling your kids?
SG: This is actually our fifth year of homeschooling. I knew it would be a nightmare to start the trip and crack open the homeschool books for the first time, so we started early. I'm so glad we did! Not only are we more prepared for the trip, but we've had a great experience homeschooling. We've been able to go in depth on U.S. history, and our son can't wait to see
all the battlefields that he's learned about.
ml: How are you financing this journey? Do you have corporate sponsors?
SG: We'll be using our own funds; we do not have corporate sponsors as of yet. We don't want to do fundraisers or ask individuals for support because we want people to trust that ALL WE WANT is [for] them to register as organ donors -- and tell their family and friends as well.
ml: What do your kids think about this?
SG: They're excited, but of course they're sad about leaving their friends, too. My daughter described it by saying that she has a crack in her heart. Ouch! Just a little mom-guilt there ....
ml: Is your house still on the market? Any offers yet?
SG: Our house is on the market. We have not had any offers yet, but we're waiting expectantly because we live in a great neighborhood, and we know that in God's perfect timing, it will sell. Also, we plan to offer a $5,000 discount to registered organ donors this week.
ml: Where will you stay on the road? In an RV, with family, in hotels,
SG: We recently attended an RV show, and while we loved the big rigs, we ran the numbers. We decided that, for us, hotels would actually be better [what] with the cost of the RV, the nightly camping fee and the increased fuel expense. In addition, this trip is more of a city trip since we'll be attending media events in order to promote organ donation. Having said that, we'll definitely see our share of country sights and national parks! Plus, this will give my husband and I an excuse to do another trip around the U.S. in an RV someday ... after we get counseling from the first trip. We remain hopeful for a hotel-chain sponsor.
ml: What do you hope to get out of this trip?
SG: We hope to get every American registered as an organ donor! Why not shoot for the top?! We're already meeting so many fantastic people: Some are waiting for a transplant, others have loved ones who have donated and still others have lost loved ones while [they were] waiting on the list. I've heard the statistic that 19 people die every day while waiting on the list. That's so sad when it's incredibly easy to register, AND it's free! I honestly can't even begin to imagine how enriched our family will be after meeting so many wonderful people and experiencing this great country of ours.
ml: As a mom, are you intimidated by the thought of being with your family 24/7
with very little "me" time?
SG: I know it will be crazy at times, but we're already together a lot because of homeschooling and my husband working mostly from home, so I'm hoping it's not too much of an adjustment. Usually my "me" time now is when I'm working out. If anybody's intimidated, it's my family. They know that if I don't get a good workout in each day, I can be a bear ... and we're hoping for no bears of any kind on the trip! Our trip tagline is, "Four people, 365 days of the road, lots of deodorant, years of therapy ..." so ask me that question
later, and maybe my answer will change.
We wish the Greiner family the best of luck on their journey!