Restoring Hope Transplant House Raising Funds For Renovations
MIDDLETON, Wis. -- Dozens of people hopped on their bicycles Saturday morning for the third annual Restoring Hope Ride to benefit Middleton's Restoring Hope Transplant House.
The facility provides a "home away from home" for patients going through bone marrow or other transplant surgeries.
Ian Vande Velde, a former transplant patient, for one welcomed the distraction of Saturday's ride.
"Today I was just thinking about the wind a lot," said transplant recipient Vande Velde.
Though Saturday he found himself thinking about more trivial things, Vande Velde spends much of his time contemplating the traumatic experience of transplant surgery.
"When you look in the mirror and you have this big scar, you start your day out a lot differently than a lot of people do. I start out my day with looking at that and seeing how far I've come," said Vande Velde.
Vande Velde's journey began at 8 years old when he started a lengthy battle for his life.
"I just had all the classic signs of liver failure," Vande Velde said.
But 22 years and one new liver later, Vande Velde's future looks bright -- and busy.
"This summer I'm going to Sweden for the World Transplant Games," Vande Velde said.
The proceeds from Saturday's ride will go toward helping finish renovations at Restoring Hope Transplant House, a home for transplant patients to stay while they wait for a donor who can give them a second chance at life.
The home is still under construction. But organizers are hoping that the proceeds from the ride will help in allowing patients and their caregivers to move in by the end of the year.
And anyone in Vande Velde's situation would be welcome in the new home.
"We take them scared, we take them angry, we take them frustrated," said Transplant House Executive Director Cindy Herbst.
Herbst said she knows people awaiting organ transplants are on an emotional rollercoaster that has sharper and scarier twists and turns than anything seen on the Restoring Hope Ride.
"I think sometimes when you have a chronic disease, especially something as life-altering as an organ transplant, that people put them in a box of 'I'm a sick person,' and they become these diseases," said Vande Velde.
But it's the goal of Restoring Hope Transplant House to show that their patients are so much more than that.
"They want to go back to biking and swimming and getting their degrees," said Herbst.
"I'm married now. My wife and I moved to Madison five years ago. And I'm going to nursing school to give back to all the great nurses who helped me," Vande Velde said.
Vande Velde said he hopes others will do their part to help by donating to the Restoring Hope Transplant House.
Organizers for the Transplant House said they hope to start renovations this summer, and hopefully, soon after, the location will be ready to serve patients.
For more information on Restoring Hope Transplant House, go to its website.