In 2021, Matt Cavanaugh donated a kidney to a stranger, starting a chain that catalyzed 7 more transplants. In 2022, just months post-donation, he ran the 4 Deserts ultramarathon Grand Slam—1,000 kilometers self-supported across the world’s worst deserts, winning “The Last Desert” in Antarctica and finished as the series’ fastest American ever, beating Dean Karnazes’s record time by over 8 hours. In 2023, he’s running 12 major US road marathons, each under 3 hours, to raise awareness for living kidney donation. His running has inspired others to step forward as kidney donors.
Matt Cavanaugh, PhD, is president and chief executive officer of the National Kidney Donation Organization. A retired US Army Strategist who twice earned the Bronze Star Medal, as well as the Combat Action Badge, for his service in Iraq, he also serves as a Professor of Practice with the Arizona State University School of Politics & Global Studies. Matt was the US Army’s Athlete of the Year in 2009 and served on the Wounded Warrior Project’s Advisory Council from 2014 to 2016. His writing’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, and USA Today, among others.