Riders Advocate for Organ Donation through Trails4Transplants

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A group of horseback riders are hitting the trails across North Dakota and Minnesota to raise money and awareness for eye, tissue and organ donation.

Trails4Transplants has been organizing these trail riding excursions annually since 2013. This year’s ride started on May 21 in Edgeley, North Dakota, and will conclude with a finale celebration on Saturday, June 3, at the Renville County Fairgrounds in Bird Island, Minnesota.

The ride was originally conceived by Roger Hille and Ashley Peterson during a ride in 2012. Both Hille and Peterson have a personal connection to the cause: Hille’s son-in-law had received a liver donation and Peterson’s brother saved four lives as an organ donor after he passed away at age 19. Most of the riders who participate today have been affected by organ and tissue donation.

“It can help so many people, and it’s the easiest thing to do,” rider Connie Alexander told the Wahpeton Daily News. She lost her husband to cancer; he couldn’t receive a liver transplant because he hadn’t been cancer-free for five years. “My husband couldn’t get a transplant. It’s just something that happens in life. But for people who can, it makes a huge difference. It’s awesome.”

In many states, becoming an organ donor is as simple as checking off a box when you renew your driver’s license or state identification. You can also register online at any time. The most important thing is to discuss your decision with your family members so they know your wishes.

Trails4Transplants provides more information about organ donation on their website. Tap here to get the facts.

This year’s ride covered approximately 320 miles and participants are permitted to join for just a few legs or for the whole journey. The goal of Trails4Transplants was to complete 2,000 miles in six years, which will occur with next year’s ride, if all goes according to plan.

Next year’s ride is planned to span from Willmar, Minnesota to Rochester, Minnesota. To participate, donate, or find out more, visit trails4transplants.org.


Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com

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