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Woman competes in unique games
As sports fans across the world get ready to turn their heads toward London for the Summer Olympic games, a St. Simons Island resident is gearing up for a different kind of competition.

Five years after receiving a heart transplant, Risa Rambo will compete for the second time for Team Georgia at the Transplant Games of America in Grand Rapids, Mich., an Olympic-style sporting event that brings together transplant patients, donors and their families.

The event begins Saturday.

It's a chance to connect with individuals who have faced similar problems and for donor families to understand how their loved one's donation changed another person's life.

Rambo knows the difference an organ transplant can make. Suffering from a rare condition called restrictive cardiomyopathy, which prevents the heart from pumping blood, Rambo waited 23 months for a transplant before undergoing surgery in March 2007 at Emory University Hospital.

"My energy level had just got so bad I couldn't even walk to my mailbox without pacing myself. It was a pretty good incline. I got to where I just couldn't hardly do anything," she said.

"I could feel the difference after I woke up. I could feel the blood flow through the toes."

A basketball player in college, Rambo lives an active life.

She first competed at the Transplant Games in 2008 and brought home several medals in her age group, including a gold medal in golf, a silver medal for the backstroke in the swimming competition and a gold in basketball.

Rambo hopes to bring home the gold again for the 50-59 age group in swimming, basketball, and track and field competitions.

But the event is more than a sporting competition. It provides inspiration and hope

"You hear a lot of stories... and it really motivates you and lets you know how lucky you are," Rambo said.

"They say everybody's a winner just by being there because you've got a second chance at life."

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