From the Ledger-Enquirer in Georgia.
By JUANITA COUSINS - Associated Press Writer
A celebrity-studded effort to raise awareness and funds for thousands of organ transplant candidates will converge with the work of volunteers and nonprofit groups in the fifth annual "Share the Beat" fundraiser Saturday evening in Atlanta.
"Organ donating is such a broad spectrum of gifts you can give people," said "Desperate Housewives" actor James Denton. "It is such a commonsense cause that affects all of us. It is something we all here easily can help with. You never know when it could be you on the receiving end or your family member or friend."
Denton will emcee the concert and live auction downtown at The Tabernacle to benefit the Georgia Transplant Foundation and The James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness in Los Angeles.
Celebrities including Academy Award winner Robert Redford, Emmy Award winner Dana Delany, American Idol runner up Bo Bice, country music songwriter Rivers Rutherford, Grammy nominated artist Greg Barnhill and singer-songwriter Alexa Wilkinson are set to appear.
Robert Redford's son, James Redford, waited six months for a donor liver in the early 1990s, according to the JRI Web site. He later founded the institute to raise awareness about the need for organ and tissue donation.
"As with many recipients, when I went through my experience with transplant I felt compelled to give back. I felt the best way to accomplish this was to use my experience with film and put a face on the many donors and recipients that reside in our country, something that had not been done at the time," the younger Redford wrote in an e-mail.
In past years, Redford has teamed with transplant organizations in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and other cities to hold his "Share the Beat" fundraiser. The group raised $167,000 last year in Omaha, Neb., where country singer Tim McGraw was the headliner, said spokeswoman Carmen Cruz.
This year Redford partnered with the Georgia Transplant Foundation in Atlanta to raise $250,000. The foundation's executive director, David Bakelman, said they hope to double that amount during Saturday's fundraiser.
"We felt it would be a great partnership," Bakelman said. "When JRI saw the infrastructure that we have, they thought we could have a great partnership going forward."
The Georgia foundation provides $2 million in financial support to transplant candidates, recipients, living donors and their families every year.
About 1,800 Georgians and 99,000 Americans are waiting for heart, lung, kidney, liver and pancreas transplants, Bakelman said.
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