Bill Conner heard the heartbeat after cycling across the US to meet the recipient of his late daughter’s heart and raise awareness of organ donation.
A father’s journey…
Bill Conner embarked on his 1400 mile (2250 km) trip in honour of his 20-year-old daughter, Abbey, who died in a drowning accident in January, and to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation. On his journey, Bill was encouraged by the kindness of strangers, before an emotional meeting with the recipient, Loumonth Jack, Jr., another father who is alive today because of Abbey’s heart.
Bill Conner is riding across the US to raise money and awareness for organ donation
We all know that Father’s Day can be an emotional time for dads as they perhaps reflect on memories with their own fathers, and the new memories they’re creating with their own children. For Bill Conner, this year’s Father’s Day was to be a particularly emotional experience because it marked the first one he’d spend without his daughter, Abigail Conner.
The 20-year-old, known by those close to her as Abbey, passed away on January 12 after she, and her 23-year-old brother Austin, were both found face-down in a swimming pool in Cancun, Mexico. Austin survived, but tragically Abbey did not.
Despite her passing, the dad from Oregon, Wisconsin, was able to pay tribute to his daughter on Father’s Day by cycling all the way to Louisiana to visit the young man who received her heart. Before her untimely death, Abbey had registered to be an organ donor and her heart was donated to Loumonth Jack Jr., from Ventress, Louisiana, whose own heart was failing after suffering two heart attacks.
Mr. Conner is now continuing his ride to Florida, and is nearly $15,000 towards the $20,000 that he is aiming to raise online in his daughter’s memory. By the time he is finished he will have cycled 2,600 miles (4,180 kilometres).
Mr. Jack presented Mr. Conner with a stethoscope so he could listen to Abbey’s heart
Bill Conner was able to get in touch with the 21-year-old Mr. Jack via the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, and the two had spoken at lenght on the phone before deciding to meet in person. Mr. Conner began his trip — which he is calling "Abbey’s Ride for Life" — in Madison, Wisconsin, on May 22, and met Mr. Jack four weeks later on Father’s Day. During their meeting, Mr. Jack presented Mr. Conner with a stethoscope so he could listen to Abbey’s heart.
Mr. Conner is continuing to ride his bike across the country in an attempt to spread awareness and raise money for organ donation. He plans to end his trip on approximately July 10 at the hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Abbey passed away and her organs harvested. There, he will spread his daughter’s ashes in the ocean. He is writing about his journey and mission on his GoFundMe page.
"Abbey's Ride For Life": GoFundMe
$24,375 of $30k goal raised so far "Whatever you can give is greatly appreciated. If you feel this cause is worthy of your time, I would ask you to please forward it to your network to help spread the word of Abigail’s ‘Ride For Life’." — Bill Conner