CALGARY -- Competition and gratitude are being celebrated in Banff and Canmore this week at the 11th annual World Transplant Winter Games.

Mount Norquay is hosting the alpine events and snowshoeing competitions are at the Warner Stables in Banff. The town is also hosting curling at the the enlands Banff Recreation Centre.

Canmore’s Nordic Centre is the site for cross-country skiing and biathlon.

Established in 1978, the World Transplant Games Federation (WTGF) is a worldwide organization with representation from more than 60 countries that celebrates successful transplantation and the gift of life through unique and inspiring events, culminating with the Summer and Winter World Transplant Games.

This year's event marks just the second time it has been held outside of Europe.

The aim is to raise public awareness of the importance and benefits of organ donation by demonstrating the health and fitness that can be achieved post-transplant. 

"All across the world we’re unified by this one common bond, which is the gift of life," said WTGF president Chris Thomas.

"If you think of world politics and all the challenges we’re facing, for a week here in Banff we’re leaving all of that behind and we’re just celebrating the second chance at life."

The federation also strives to encourage organ recipients to remain fit and healthy post-transplant.

Lisa Cuthbertson is from Australia and has competed in 16 summer and winter World Transplant Games.

"You look around and don’t even realize most people are transplants and I’m 35 years post-transplant and one of the very lucky ones to be here," said Cuthbertson.

Edmontonian David Smith received a kidney from his brother in 1997.  He knows Banff and Lake Louise are on many people’s bucket lists.

"Just the reaction of the people that are here and it’s the first time to Banff for many people and skiing on our snow and everybody’s praising it, they’re loving it here,” said Smith.

The World Transplant Games slogan is Powered by the gift of life,' which organizers say gives recipients the motivation to strive toward full rehabilitation through exercise, camaraderie and healthy living.

The event also provides them with a way of saying thank you to donors, their families, health professionals and researchers. 

"Remaining healthy and physically fit around a transplanted organ are crucial to long-term survival," said Thomas.  

"These recipients have been given a precious resource and the WTGF is committed to providing recipients with practical and inspiring choices to getting and staying fit."

Learn more about the games online.