Trails4Transplants has developed an innovative and enjoyable way to raise awareness about, and funds for, organ, eye, and tissue donation. Trails for Transplants (T4T) is embarking on its sixth trail ride, May 20 through June 2, 2018. “10,000 reasons to donate”, from Wadena to Rochester, MN, 317 miles, is the sixth leg of a 2,000 mile journey mapped out over 4 states and a six-year span.
“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, 46, has primary sclerosing cholangitis, a disease that damages liver cells and causes cirrhosis.
The average length of the daily ride is 21 miles, with the longest at 29 miles. Riders may join or stop along any leg of the trip. An average of 20 to 30 riders are expected to participate each day. Preregistered riders come from a number of differe
nt states, and local riders are encouraged to register and join the ride as well. Community stops along the way include Wadena, Eagle Bend, Long Prairie, Sauk Centre, Belgrade, Willmar, Bird Island, Fairfax, Sleepy Eye, St James, Garden City, Pemberton, Waseca, Pine Island, and Rochester. Communities are encouraged to participate as well. Donations, meals, and smiles are all welcome.
The minimum contribution to participate in the ride is $2.00 per mile, with the bulk of funds going to the Gift of Life house in Rochester, MN, a facility where people waiting for or recovering from an organ transplant can stay at a reduced rate. Riders are encouraged to solicit sponsorships in addition to the minimum mileage cost. Hanson said the ride has raised nearly $200,000 in its five-year history, with hopes to make their $250,000 goal this year.
While organ, eye, and tissue 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. More than 125,000 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.