How to donate
- Monetary donations are accepted for Team Green and the Georgia Transplant Foundation
- Drop-off: Limestone Place, 2480 Limestone Parkway, Gainesville
- Online: www.gatransplant.org/get-involved/giving
A trek is supposed to be a journey of great length, often traveled by walking.
On Dec. 6, friends Kelly Parham, 55, of Gainesville, and Peter Kite, 45, of Dawsonville, began a 3,000-mile bike trek.
The journey didn’t take the two men across America literally, but they used the Race Across America route as their guide for their ride on stationary bicycles at the Limestone Place athletic complex.
The reason for riding was to help raise money for Kite’s Team Green nonprofit organization, founded in 2005 to raise awareness and provide support and education for transplant patients and their families. It also helped raise money for the Georgia Transplant Foundation to help transplant recipients purchase anti-rejection medication.
In April 2013, Parham donated one of his kidneys to Kite. Kite was born with a congenital defect causing his kidneys to fail at an early age. Kite had two previous transplants.
The men planned to hit the 3,000-mile mark Saturday, but due to Kite’s health concerns, he wasn’t able to log as many miles. Parham said they should finish by Tuesday, though.
“This week has been a blur,” Parham said. “I can’t believe I’ve been here (at Limestone Place) over a week, eight days now. People ask who’s been coming and riding with me on what day, and my wife asked me who came this morning — I couldn’t remember.
“Everything has kind of gotten into a routine of four hours sleep in the middle of the night and then riding the bike as much as possible during the day time.”
Parham said this is the longest he has continuously ridden a bike.
As of Saturday night, Parham had pedalled an estimated 2,400 miles in eight days, averaging about 300 miles per day.
Friends of Kite and Parham also joined the journey, riding a combined 3,000 miles among a number of people, bringing the total up to 6,000 miles.
A 1,000-mile run was scheduled to take place on Saturday as well; however, with persistent rain on Saturday, it was a washout.
“I’m blessed to have a lot of great friends,” Parham said. “The family has always been 100 percent behind me, staying here with me at night, along with my friends. It means a lot.”
He also said this was an opportunity to show people that after donating a kidney, people can still do the things they love.
In Parham’s case, it’s riding a bike.
“You can make an immediate impact,” he said. “We’re not donating money to research, hoping to get some kind of cure. You can actually help someone right now, that you know 100 percent that you can change their life.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 94,000 people are waiting to receive a kidney. Last year, an average of 13 people died each day waiting for a donor.
Parham said he and Kite hope to speak about their donation journey and help others who are preparing to go through the same thing.
Parham’s wife, Joy Parham, credited her husband’s faith, Bible study group and friends for his being able to go the distance and not give up.
“He has the most amazing support group,” she said. “We’re surrounded by amazing people. It has been an amazing supporting cast. God has used all of them to help Kelly through all of this.”
She said his study group came to the complex all week to give support, even if they weren’t riding. They also held their study session at the complex to help accommodate Parham’s quest to reach 3,000.
She also gave credit to their friends who are missionaries in Africa as another reason Kelly was inspired.
“Their sacrifice of selling everything is much of Kelly’s reason for doing this,” she said. “They’re the reason he is auctioning off his bike.”
“It’s just another typical Kelly event — raising money for a good cause,” said Mark Stautberg, a rider who participated with Parham. “...It has taken 20 of us (riders) to barely be ahead of him in miles. How incredible it is. ... Sharing good times and raising money.”