A dedicated group of people are again planning to raise awareness about, and funds for, organ, eye, and tissue donation. Trails for Transplants (T4T) is celebrating its seventh trail ride, May 18 to May 27, 2019. The “Mandan Meander”, ride will be centered around Hille’s Windmill Ranch south of Mandan, ND. The group has previously ridden 2024 miles and raised $235,000 over the past 6 years in their dedication trek across North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana. This year’s ride will include one day dedicated to the honor of John Schwatzbauer of Mandan, who dedicated many organs and tissues following his untimely death.
“All the folks involved in this ride are volunteers that want to spread the word about organ donation and help others that are going through a transplant,” said Mandan’s Dave Hanson, one of the event’s organizers and a two-time liver transplantee. Hanson, 44, has primary sclerosing cholangitis, a disease that damages liver cells and causes cirrhosis.
The average length of the daily ride is 16 miles, with the longest at 22 miles. Riders may join or stop along any leg of the trip. The minimum contribution to participate in the ride is $25.00 per rider per day ($50.00 per family), which helps to pay expenses of and enhance healing of organ and tissue transplant recipients. Riders are encouraged to solicit sponsorships in addition to the minimum mileage cost. Hanson said the ride has raised $235,000 in its six-year history.
A page on the Trails4Transplants.org website explains that while transplantation is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine, the need for organs and tissues is much greater than the number available for transplantation. The site states that more than 114,000 men, women, and children, are awaiting organ transplants in the United States.
You need not be a horse person or own a horse to participate in the ride, said Hanson. Volunteers are needed to help transport vehicles, feed horses and riders, set up and take down corrals, direct traffic, and share personal stories of donation. ATVs are welcome to ride along.
“For me, this is my way of giving back, and honoring my donors by telling my story,” said Hanson.
Registration and complete information on Trails for Transplants is available on the event’s website at trails4transplants.org, or by contacting Roger Hille at 218-201-0589