Cyclist crossing Canada to raise awareness about organ donation makes Cape Breton stop
Published Sunday, August 28, 2016 7:00PM ADT
A cyclist is pedalling with a purpose across Canada, and she has just landed on Cape Breton Island.
Eileen Zheng began her journey after donating her kidney to her mother, who was living on dialysis with polycystic kidney disease.
Zheng says at first her mother was hesitant, fearing her daughter’s active lifestyle would be compromised.
"My mother and her relatives thought that if I donated my kidney, I wouldn't be able to continue living life the way I did," said Zheng.
The operation not only extended her mother’s life, it strengthened the bond between mother and daughter.
Zheng’s cross-Canada venture has now become a tribute to her mother who spent hours teaching her to ride a bike as a child.
She also is hoping to raise money and awareness for kidney donation, all while proving a point.
"I want to prove to the world that you can be a living organ donor and still continue your life, still live healthy," said Zheng.
Zheng has already passed through nine provinces. On Sunday, she and her bike board the Newfoundland ferry for the final leg of her journey.
"No matter how hard it is for me to ride across Canada to raise awareness, it's never going to be as hard as what some people have to go through while they're waiting for an organ," she said.
Zheng has been on the road since May when her ride began in Victoria, B.C.
She says sacrifices have been made, including putting off marrying her fiancé until next year. But when she crosses the finish line in St. John's, that won't really be the end for her.
"I'm not going to be done,” said Zheng. “I'm going to continue to raise awareness. I'm going to let people know that being an organ donor, you can be a hero. You can save lives."
She is still a bit shy of her goal of raising $75,000. But with every pump of the pedals, she is proud to be living proof of the benefits that can come from giving the gift of life.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.