Waves in Public Service
By Paul K. Mueller I May 9, 2005
It all began when a surfer met a snowboarder. Christopher Klug was competing in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City when he met Alex Quick, a young surfing enthusiast from Santa Monica. What impressed Quick the most about the snowboarding star was not so much his moves on the slope, but that he had recently received a liver transplant.
"I was there as Chris took the bronze medal that year," says Quick, now a junior in biology at UCSD, "and I promised to champion his cause."
Quick, 20, founded "Donor Dudes" upon entering UCSD in 2002, as part of the first-ever class at Six College "to spread awareness to youth about the need for donors," he says. The public-service project helped Quick win a $10,000 scholarship from the Donald A. Strauss Public Service Scholarship Foundation. "The project is an extension of my commitment to life-saving donations," says Quick. "The need for blood, marrow, organ and tissue donors was brought to my attention by Chris, who was alive because of a transplant."
In 2003, Quick secured Associated Students funding for Klug to visit campus and speak at the Price Center, and Donor Dudes representatives have traveled to high schools and college campuses across San Diego County promoting life-saving donations.
The $10K scholarship, awarded to those with "extensive records of community and public service, as well as a demonstrated desire to make a difference," will not be spent on surfing gear or parties on the beach.
"The funding from the Strauss Foundation will go towards making Donor Dudes a permanent part of UCSD's landscape," says Quick, "expanding it to other campuses, and increasing the lateral communication between blood banks and organ-and-tissue providers.
"The two parties do not work together very effectively, so we're not saving as many lives as possible, even though the two are intrinsically linked - liver transplants cannot occur without blood on hand. And people who are willing to donate blood tend to be the type who are willing to be an organ donor, and vice versa."
In that same selfless spirit, Quick applied in 2004 to be a rider on the "Five Points of Life Ride," a national awareness campaign sponsored by the LifeSouth Community Blood Centers of Gainesville, Fla. "The five points of life are bone marrow, organs and tissue, whole blood, platelets, and chord blood," Quick says. "I was selected, raised $6,000 to help fund the ride, and last summer rode my bicycle with 12 other donors or recipients from Seattle to Cape Canaveral. I was also the lead speaker at the dozen or so schools we visited."
The group's message is simple, says Quick: "Give life. It is important for youth to hear our message because each young person can become a hero to hundreds of people if they learn about the cause early."
A biology major and part of the research team of Dr. Marquis Hart, UCSD's chief abdominal transplant surgeon, Quick plans to attend medical school after graduation. He contributes to the Guardian, the university's student newspaper, and plays goalkeeper on the university's intercollegiate club soccer team. And the shaggy-maned dude is still a dedicated surfer: "I've been surfing my long board for eight years," he says.
In tune with more than the wild waves, Quick says his favorite concerts have been the Rolling Stones at Dodger Stadium and the Who at the Hollywood Bowl.
He's always been active. He and his younger brother, Ian, "avid backpackers," hiked the John Muir Trail in the High Sierras when Alex was 17 and Ian was 15, and later traveled throughout Europe. "One of the highlights was seeing a Premier League rivalry, Chelsea versus Manchester United at Chelsea. It was a full house and we were very lucky to get tickets from a guy who sold them to us at face value."
UCSD, says Quick, "has been a perfect match for my interests and abilities. For me, UCSD is the Florence for any hopeful modern-day Renaissance people."