It's not every day you get to participate in a cause that helps save lives. That's exactly what Abilene Christian University student Ryan Flores did recently.
Flores, an organ recipient, competed in the 19th World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa. He looks like the picture of health, but early in life it didn't look like he would ever be able to do something like the World Transplant Games.
"When I was born, I only had 10 percent kidney function and zero in the other, so they said I was going to need a kidney transplant," Flores said.
His health challenges didn't stop there. With the medicine to help recover from transplant surgery, there was a slight chance Flores might develop cancer.
"When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma and it was pretty bad and it made its way kind of into my spine and its just something that I would never want anyone to be apart of," Flores said.
Currently, Ryan said his health is good.
"In April of 1996, my cancer was in remission and I've been healthy ever since and I'm just blessed to be apart of the Texas Children's family," Flores said. "They're almost like my second family."
The Texas Children's Hospital sponsored Flores to compete in the games.
"It's not about winning," Flores said. "Winning is fun and all but when you see someone up there that is on that gold medal stand and they're crying, because they have a deceased donor, they're just so blessed that they had the opportunity to do this. That hits home so hard. I'm just thankful that I have a living donor and I can thank him when I can.
His dad was his kidney donor.
"When I was in the hospital, my parents always just told me, you're going to beat this," Flores said. "You're going to get out of here. Never was there a negative thought in my mind then. Of course now when I look back it's just so much bigger. I didn't know how bad it was until you get older and you learn more about technology and medicine and cancer. There's a possibility that I shouldn't be here right now."
With all of his health struggles, he said he doesn't ask, 'why me?' He's just happy to inspire others with his story.
"You can be normal after a transplant or have cancer it's not like just immediate death," Flores said. "People think that you get cancer, you have no chance at surviving, but I'm living proof that you can live a normal life and a healthy life. Do sports, participate in other things. It's awesome."
Flores earned the bronze medal in golf and in the discus throw at the World Transplant Games.