I was born with kidney disease. My kidneys were 10% functional until I was 10 years old. I had my first kidney transplant when I was 11 years old. Over the past 32 years since then, I have had three more kidney transplants. I am one of the luckiest people I know. If it wasn’t for my mother, my father, my younger brother and my angel donor, I would not have lived past 10. I have had four people save my life. I have many friends who weren’t so lucky. There are 114,000 people waiting on the national organ waiting list who wish they were as lucky as I have been.
I have been a volunteer in the Atlanta transplant community since I was a 16-year-old sophomore at Chattahoochee High School in 1993. I have volunteered at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Camp Independence (a summer camp for children with organ transplants), Team Georgia in the Transplant Games of America and many others for years. I wanted to do more for both the people waiting on the national waiting list and the many friends I’ve lost over the years to organ failure complications.
One year ago I came up with the idea of scooting across the country on a mobility scooter for organ donor awareness and registration. The idea started all the way back when I was just 7 years old. I remember watching a movie called The Terry Fox Story on HBO and it has stuck with me my entire life. Terry Fox was an 18-year-old cancer patient who lost his leg to the disease and still attempted to run across Canada on a prosthetic leg to raise money for cancer research. Even as a young child, it affected me.
Not only was I born with kidney disease, but I was also born with hip dysplasia. That means both of my hips are dislocated. I was never able to get this repaired, but I have still been able to get around with no assistance. As I’ve gotten older, my hips have gotten worse and I had to start using a cane to walk. It is bad enough that I have had to start using a mobility scooter to go long distances, like sporting events. At first, my pride wouldn’t let me use a scooter, but after a while, I gave in. That’s when I realized what I had been missing going short distances.
When I started using my mobility scooter more, Terry Fox came to mind. Then I listened to a podcast about someone walking across the country and it all came together. I will try what Terry Fox tried, but to raise awareness for organ donation. I thought my idea would be easier because I’m not raising money. I’m just raising awareness.
Earlier this year I started raising money and planning my trip. I got a scooter from Trikaroo in Florida and went down to Miami where I had my first transplant from my mother in 1987. I had enough money and a driver to make it 1,515 miles to Nashville, Tennessee. My plans didn’t extend to cross the country but I’m not a quitter, so I sat down and started making new plans.
My new route will take me from Hilton Head to San Francisco. I will be scooting 40-50 miles per day for 135 days from mid-February to July 2020. You can follow my journey on
Scooting4Donors.com and help register more organ donors to help those 114,000 people waiting for life-saving organs.
Are you an organ donor? Let’s help those people who weren’t as lucky as me!