SHEBOYGAN (NBC 26) — On his 1,600 mile bike ride journey to spread kidney donation awareness, "The Organ Trail" founder and rider Mark Scotch is making a stop in Sheboygan.
His trek began in Massachusetts and is ending in Plover, Wisconsin. It's Scotch's second ride for kidney donation this year.
In 2020, Scotch randomly met the man who inspired the ride, Hugh Smith, in a bar. They got to talking about their lives, and Scotch learned Smith was in need of a new kidney, after years of bumps and bruises from his days as a jockey. After hearing about the woes of the match waitlist and the American's who suffer the same hurt every day, Scotch knew he needed to help. While he wasn't able to give Smith his kidney, Scotch was able to match with a person in New York in September 2020.
But there's a deeper meaning to the story.
“Something I don’t mention very often is, Lynn and I our first born son at 15 months was on life support and died," said Scotch. "And We'd always wondered, you know, we always kind of wished we would have been able to donate his organs."
Scotch isn't alone on his trek across the U.S. He has his wife, Lynn, trailing nearby, and he invites friends, strangers, and those in need of a kidney to come and share their stories.
"[I'm] So proud of everything he's doing," said Tim Mullen, a friend of Scotch's who's riding with him on his final leg of the journey. "And quite frankly, to a lot of the people we've met, and especially those who are looking for kidneys, it's been so heartwarming to see just the hope that this has given them.”
Since then, Scotch has used "The Organ Trail" ride as a way to show people you can still live a normal life.
“The Organ Trail is all about generating awareness of the need for kidney donors, especially living kidney donors," said Scotch. "But it’s also about showing people that even with one kidney, you can still lead a life full of activities, even if those activities are sustained and vigorous.”
As for Hugh, he's living his best life. He and Scotch still very much keep in touch.
“Ge got a kidney in February," said Scotch. "He thought he was doing really well on dialysis, but after about three weeks on the new kidney, he didn't realize how unhealthy he was, and how good he's feeling now.”
Scotch invites people to follow his Facebook page to keep up with him during his rides, and to learn more about kidney disease and the need for donors.
“There's an urgent dire need. People are dying, and you can donate and live a normal life.”