Twelve non-professional cyclists with The Circle of Life bike tour rode nearly 600 miles in eight days throughout Texas to promote organ, tissue, bone marrow and blood donation. Each cyclist has a personal experience with one of these life-saving donations and rides in honor of a person who has given or received the gift of life.
The tour to encourage the public to be life-saving donors began in Beaumont and ended eight days later in Houston. The riders were in San Marcos on Oct. 17.
This year’s honorees include Jackson Norris, who died in June 2011 after doing what he loved most – skateboarding. After skating with a friend, the 15-year-old Hays High School sophomore attempted to cross Highway 183 in Lockhart when he was hit by a truck. He died the next day. His parents made the decision to donate the beloved teen’s organs, saving seven lives.
Jackson’s mom, Rebecca Norris of Buda, got to meet Sarah Pipkin, a 26-year-old rider from Texas who received a heart transplant two years ago from a 14-year-old boy. While she does not have Jackson’s heart, she chose to honor Jackson and his family’s decision to give life-saving organs to seven females around the country.
“It was just beautiful,” Norris said of the ride and meeting Sarah. “It was so meaningful. It meant a lot to us. We were so glad to be there with people who understand what we’re going through.”
Norris has not met most of the recipients from Jackson’s organ donation. But she said the recipient who has Jackson’s right lung is a 65-year- old woman from San Antonio. They met and are in touch.
“She will be at the skate park opening,” Norris said.
The park she’s referring to is the Jackson Norris Memorial Skate Park in Buda, currently in the design and construction phase. Norris said she hopes it will be open around the time of Jackson’s birthday, which is April 9.
Norris said the park will have seven trees in honor of each of the recipient’s of Jackson’s organs. His heart went to a 26-year-old woman from Texas, which is probably why Norris felt so connected to Pipkin.
According to Michelle Segovia, spokesperson for Texas Organ Sharing Alliance, events took place in each city to give the community a chance to donate blood, register for the National Marrow Donor Program, and register their wishes to be an organ and tissue donor. Recipients, donors and donor families were also on hand to share their experiences and answer questions.