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Boxer ‘Baby’ Joe Mesi Visits Golisano Children’s Hospital

Thursday, January 15, 2004

"Baby" Joe Mesi meets Dillon Gonzalez, who received a new kidney in November 2003.

Two years ago, when “Baby Joe” Mesi learned his cousin needed a kidney transplant, he started a not-for-profit organization to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation, and to help others in need of similar lifesaving surgeries. While his cousin, Ganelle Shanor, was waiting for a new kidney, she died in an accident.

            However, thanks to the thoughtfulness of its founder, the “Baby” Joe Mesi Fight for Organ Donation thrives. Mesi, 30, a rising star in the world of professional boxing, visited Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong in January. He spoke about his foundation, outlined the need for increased organ donation, and presented the hospital with $7,500. The funds will help children who undergo kidney and liver transplants at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Dillon Gonzalez, a 9-year-old Rochester boy who underwent a kidney transplant at here in November, was in attendance.

Mesi’s foundation is supported, in part, by proceeds from the admission fees to his post-fight victory parties, of which there are many. The Buffalo native is 28-0, with 25 knockouts, and most boxing experts agree that he likely has a world heavyweight title fight in his future. At No. 4, Mesi is one of only two undefeated boxers ranked in the World Boxing Council’s top 10.

During the winter, Mesi visited Rochester and toured Blue Cross Arena, a potential venue for his next fight. “My heart is here. I want to fight in my neighboring city and I know I have a lot of support here,” the prizefighter said. “It just makes sense for me and it would be a way to pay Rochester back.” During his visit, a confidentMesi also called out heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, challenging him to a fight this summer.

In the meantime, he will continue the “Baby” Joe Mesi Fight for Organ Donation. Statistics from the United Network for Organ Sharing, the governing body for organ donation in the United States, show that more than 86,000 people nationwide are waiting for a life-saving transplant. For each person who receives a transplant, two additional names are added to the list. A new name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list every 14 minutes.

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