Hi everyone, my name is DJ, I’m a patient rider looking forward to riding in the tour for the first time. This is just a bit about me and why I’m riding.
Kidney disease is something I’ve dealt with all my life. When I was two, both my kidneys shut down, and the doctors didn’t think I would survive. And of course I did, however the doctors informed my parents that the disease would eventually start shutting my kidneys down again, and I would have to seek treatment. Despite this, growing up I was active in different sports and activities. Including soccer, motocross, running and cycling, anything I thought would be fun.
Eventually, my kidneys did fail, and at twenty-two years of age I received my first transplant from my mother. It gave me new life. I returned to running and exercising regularly, finished college and was feeling incredible. I cannot describe how grateful I am to my mother, and always will be, for giving me life twice. Unfortunately, four and a half years after the transplant, right after a ski trip to Colorado, the kidney failed. Then came dialysis.
It was quite an adjustment, but over the course of my three and a half years of treatments, I truly learned how much of an impact proper nutrition and fitness can have on your body. The first two years were filled with tons of complications that made me feel absolutely terrible. This ordeal forced me to look hard at my lifestyle in regards to my diet and activity level. I realized that I had developed habits that weren’t improving my health. I decided I wouldn’t live like that: I started moving as often as I could. I would go hiking or running trails, take my bike out riding and started strength training. This had an incredible effect on how I felt on and off of treatment. Three years after I started dialysis, I ran my first 5k obstacle course.
This past year I was lucky enough to receive the incredible gift of a second transplant. My recovery has been incredibly different, thanks to proper nutrition and fitness. Within two hours of the transplant, I was out of bed walking the halls. I haven’t stopped moving since then. After only two week, I was back in the gym a few times a week walking as much as possible.
My philosophy is to always be looking forward and to stay positive–no matter the outcome or situation. Even though kidney disease sucks, it has made me appreciate how fragile life is and how exhilarating good health can be. It also showed me how deep the cords of love are.
I’m riding this year to show people that you don’t have to be held back by anything, you can adjust, put mind over matter and make it happen. I’m looking forward to a fun ride, new friendships, and sharing my story with others.