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Cross-Canada cycling trek to raise awareness for organ transplants ends Sunday afternoon at Clover Point

Sep 10 2012
Kibby Evans and her partner Daman Milsom dip their bikes into the Pacific Ocean off Clover Point Sunday afternoon after returning from a cross-Canada cycling trek to raise awareness for organ donation and transplants. 

Kibby Evans and her partner Daman Milsom dip their bikes into the Pacific Ocean off Clover Point Sunday afternoon after returning from a cross-Canada cycling trek to raise awareness for organ donation and transplants.

Photograph by: Darren Stone , timescolonist.com (September 2012)

Neither Kibby Evans or her partner Daman Milsom had ever done long-distance cycling until they set out on an 8,000-kilometre journey across Canada to get more people to become organ donors.

The couple dipped their bicycle tires into the Atlantic Ocean on June 2 in Cape Spear, N.L., and set out to raise awareness about organ transplants.

From the eastern-most point of the country, they fought the steep inclines of Canada’s mountainous regions, they battled high winds in the prairies and arrived in Victoria just three months later on Sunday afternoon.

Before the run ended, Evans was able to hug her father Barry Evans, who received a new liver in December last year. He’s the inspiration for the trip, which raised about $25,000 to help improve the lives of people living with new organs.

The most important part of the trip, however, was raising awareness and increasing the number of Canadians who donate their organs.

Barry suffered from liver cancer and was getting increasingly sick, before being bumped to the top of the list.

“They wait until you’re on your last few days before you go to the top of the list,” Kibby said.

Barry was fortunately strong enough to take the liver and rode his bike for the last 10 kilometres of his daughter’s trip. Kibby and Milsom rode with an entourage of friends and family to Clover Point mid-afternoon.

They finally were able to dip their tires into the Pacific Ocean, completing the goal they set out to do about a year ago.

“It’s so important for people to know they can sign up to be a donor and that’s what Kibby’s trek was all about,” Barry said. “I can’t say enough about how important this has been.”

When they first started planning the trip last summer, Barry was waiting for his transplant. He still works with doctors to make sure he has the right medication to ensure his body doesn’t reject the liver.

This part of the process is the less glamorized part of transplants, but the $25,000 raised will pay for research that improves people’s chances of accepting organs, according to Pamela Scott, executive director at the Transplant Research Foundation of B.C.

“People have terrible effects from the anti-rejection drugs. They minimize your immune system and can cause problems with your kidneys,” Scott said. “That’s why the research dollars are important, it’s for after the transplant.”

Kibby and Milsom will donate the money raised to the foundation. Anyone looking to donate can contact the website at www.trekking4transplant.ca.

The cycling duo averaged about 120 kilometres a day on their trip, riding their bikes consecutively for about seven to nine days before taking breaks.

Wind was their most fierce enemy, they said. Gusts reached up to about 50 kilometres an hour on the prairies, limiting some travel days to just more than 50 kilometres.

“Mentally and physically, it was quite challenging dealing with the wind,” Kibby said.

Milsom agreed with his partner that it was all worth it.

“It’s a really worthwhile cause and it’s important to spread the word across the country,” he said.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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