At 16 years old, Reno local, Austin James Steele, applied to take his driver’s license test. When his mother, Marlies Radtke, asked him if he would register as an organ donor after he passed his test, he replied, “Well, why wouldn’t I be?”
Steele grew up in Reno playing a variety of sports and musical instruments, and after graduating high school he served four years in the Navy. After completing his military service, he died suddenly at just 27 years old in December 2017. Radtke already knew her son was a registered organ donor, which helped her navigate the sudden and tragic loss. His heart and liver saved two people.
As a Donor Network West ambassador, Radtke now raises awareness about the importance of organ donation by sharing her son’s story and extending his legacy of serving others.
Radtke will round the bases during the second inning at the Reno Aces’ Home Run for Life game, presented by Donor Network West, Friday, Sept. 15, at Greater Nevada Field as the Reno Aces take on the Salt Lake Bees.
“I’m so grateful to Donor Network West and the Aces for this special game honoring Austin,” Radtke said. “He was a loving, kind, sweet person who lit up the room and always wanted to help others.”
Donor Network West is the only nonprofit organization authorized by the federal government to recover organ, eye and tissue donations across northern Nevada and northern California. The organization supported six Home Run for Life baseball games during the 2023 Aces’ season, with this being the final Home Run for Life game of the season. In its second year, the partnership has brought critical awareness about organ donation to the northern Nevada community and its sports fans.
“Austin’s decision to register as an organ donor gave others a second chance at life,” Janice Whaley, president and CEO of Donor Network West, said. “Donor Network West is humbled to be able to honor northern Nevada’s organ donors and their families. Together, with our partners at the Reno Aces, we further our life-saving work by shining a light on the tremendous impact of organ, eye and tissue donation in the community.”
Throughout the 2023 season, brave individuals and families in the northern Nevada community have been honored by taking a ceremonial trip around the bases, with each team lining the baselines. Individuals honored have been personally impacted by organ, eye and tissue donation.
“Our work with Donor Network West over the last two years has brought 12 Home Run for Life games to Greater Nevada Field and our fans,” Chris Phillips, general manager and chief operating officer for the Reno Aces said. “Each game participant has shown bravery and generosity in sharing their stories with our community in efforts to encourage others to say yes to organ donation.”
Anyone can register to be an organ donor. To learn more and to join the organ donor registry, visit DonorNetworkWest.org.