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Mother of local organ donor and Navy veteran will round the bases to honor her son during Reno Aces game, Friday, Sept. 15

September 11, 2023

RENO, Nev. (Sept. 11, 2023) — At 16 years old, Reno local, Austin James Steele, applied to take his driver’s license test. When his mother, Marlies Radtke, asked him if he would register as an organ donor after he passed his test, he replied, “Well, why wouldn’t I be?” Steele

RENO, Nev. (Sept. 11, 2023) — At 16 years old, Reno local, Austin James Steele, applied to take his driver’s license test. When his mother, Marlies Radtke, asked him if he would register as an organ donor after he passed his test, he replied, “Well, why wouldn’t I be?”

Steele grew up in Reno playing a variety of sports and musical instruments, and after graduating high school he served four years in the Navy. After completing his military service, he died suddenly at just 27 years old in December 2017. Radtke already knew her son was a registered organ donor, which helped her navigate the sudden and tragic loss. His heart and liver saved two people.

As a Donor Network West ambassador, Radtke now raises awareness about the importance of organ donation by sharing her son’s story and extending his legacy of serving others.

Radtke will round the bases during the second inning at the Reno Aces’ Home Run for Life game, presented by Donor Network West, Friday, Sept. 15, at Greater Nevada Field as the Reno Aces take on the Salt Lake Bees.

“I’m so grateful to Donor Network West and the Aces for this special game honoring Austin,” Radtke said. “He was a loving, kind, sweet person who lit up the room and always wanted to help others.”

Donor Network West is the only nonprofit organization authorized by the federal government to recover organ, eye and tissue donations across northern Nevada and northern California. The organization supported six Home Run for Life baseball games during the 2023 Aces’ season, with this being the final Home Run for Life game of the season. In its second year, the partnership has brought critical awareness about organ donation to the northern Nevada community and its sports fans.

“Austin’s decision to register as an organ donor gave others a second chance at life,” Janice Whaley, president and CEO of Donor Network West, said. “Donor Network West is humbled to be able to honor northern Nevada’s organ donors and their families. Together, with our partners at the Reno Aces, we further our life-saving work by shining a light on the tremendous impact of organ, eye and tissue donation in the community.”

Throughout the 2023 season, brave individuals and families in the northern Nevada community have been honored by taking a ceremonial trip around the bases, with each team lining the baselines. Individuals honored have been personally impacted by organ, eye and tissue donation.

“Our partnership with Donor Network West over the last two years has brought 12 Home Run for Life games to Greater Nevada Field and our fans,” Chris Phillips, general manager and chief operating officer for the Reno Aces said. “Each game participant has shown bravery and generosity in sharing their stories with our community in efforts to encourage others to say yes to organ donation.”

Anyone can register to be an organ donor. To learn more and to join the organ donor registry, visit

— @MyDNWest —

Media note: If the media would like an interview with Marlies Radtke, mother of Austin James Steele, in advance of the Friday, Sept. 15 Aces game, please contact [email protected]. Photos of Steele are available for download here.

Photo cutline: Local Navy veteran, Austin James Steele, died in 2017 and saved two people through organ donation. His mother, Marlies Radtke, will represent Donor Network West during the ‘Home Run for Life’ game Friday, Sept. 15 at Greater Nevada Field to encourage others to consider joining the organ donor registry.

About Donor Network West

Donor Network West saves and heals lives by facilitating organ and tissue recovery for transplantation and research. Established in 1987, Donor Network West is designated and certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB), is a member of the Organ Donation Alliance and is an official Donate Life organization. Donor Network West is federally designated to serve 45 counties in northern California and northern Nevada, Donor Network West partners with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the state-authorized donor registries to help increase donor registration. For information, visit and follow us on social media: @mydnwest.

About the Reno Aces
Since 2009, the Reno Aces, Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, has been a fixture in the northern Nevada community providing family-friendly entertainment and Minor League Baseball in downtown Reno at Greater Nevada Field. Over the past 14 years, over 4.5 million fans have passed through the turnstiles, and the Aces have contributed to thousands of different non-profit charities throughout the region. For more information about the team or tickets for the entire 2023 season, visit or Text TIXX to 21003.