By Katie Herrera
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - One family from Illinois has sold their home and left everything behind to travel the country for a cause – spreading awareness for organ donation.
Tuesday, the Greiners stopped by UAB to challenge Alabamians to sign up as organ donors.
"We've been on the road for 27,000 miles. And we've been in a car, the four of us, for almost 700 hours," said Mike Greiner.
The Greiners hit the road in April 2010. They've been taking in the sights, the tastes and the fun across the country.
But this trip would not have been possible seven years ago.
"Waiting on that list, it's hopeful in the sense that you could get your organ. But it's also scary. You don't know. You're literally waiting on a phone call to tell you that you may live or die," explained Greiner.
Mike's kidneys were failing, and like many others, he was put on the waiting list for a transplant. But in August 2003, a girl named Annie gave him a second chance.
"One of the reasons we decided to sell our home and leave for the year, is that we met our donor's mom. My donor obviously passed away. And in meeting her mom, she has a picture of my family and her daughter right next to it. And I'm sort of her legacy. I'm trying to make a difference now because her daughter's not around anymore. And so for what her daughter did for me, this trip is to say thank you," said Greiner.
So along their journey, the Greiners are challenging each state to sign up as many organ donors as possible in one day.
"I don't want a lot of people to go through what my dad went through. And he got lucky, too. He got it very soon. Some people have to wait years," explained 13-year-old Levi Greiner.
According to the Alabama Organ Center, the need for donors is significant.
"There's about 3,500 people in our state alone that are waiting. About 110,000 nationally. And while we have lots of success stories, we unfortunately have a lot of people that will never be transplanted," said Ann Rayburn, Manager of Education.
The Greiners hope to change that one stop at a time.
"My life is literally a miracle now…all because Annie said yes," explained Mike.
Alabama is the 37th state the Greiners have visited. They say so far Wyoming has had the highest percentage of people sign up to be an organ donor.
To follow the Greiners' journey and to find out more about organ donation, visit www.MyStateCares.org.