Dialysis patient Matthew Purvis was one of the 400 people that took part in DaVita’s annual bike ride, which raises funds and awareness for kidney disease.
The three-day, 240-mile TourDaVita was held in late September and started in Tacoma, Wash. The ride was expected to raise more than $700,000.
RBT asked Purvis a few questions about his experience on the ride. His responses follow below.
What motivated you to participate in the event? Had you been part of a bike event before?
My mom is a nurse at DaVita and she happened to bring home a DaVita Magazine that had an article about Tour DaVita. I saw that and immediately thought 'A bike ride for awareness of kidney disease? That has my name written all over it." Also, I did it for my mom. She and I have been through a lot together—both ups and downs—and for all she's done she deserves to see me doing something like this.
I just got a bike in June and have ridden in only one other organized event—the Ride Yellow in Bay Minette, Ala. The fact that it benefited the Lance Armstrong Foundation in its fight against cancer appealed to me.
What advice would you give other people using dialysis getting ready to do something this physical?
First of all, a ride like Tour DaVita is an escape from dialysis. Make sure you enjoy yourself and love what you're doing. Otherwise, I recommend that dialysis patients train the best they can given the restrictions of their dialysis schedules.
How long have you been on dialysis?
I was born with glomerulonephritis that advanced into nephrotic syndrome. I got a transplant from my dad in 1991, when I was six years old. That kidney lasted until mid-2005 and I restarted dialysis in 2006. When I went into ESRD—but before I started dialysis—I went on the transplant list. So I've been on the list for four years and the average wait is 5-7 years. I'm hopeful.
What was the ride itself like?
Besides it being soaking wet, the ride was awesome. That was my first time traveling outside of the South and it was my first time on a plane. And the place was beautiful—even in the rain. The support from DaVita was awesome and it really moved me. In fact, when I got the airport in Seattle, there was a huge group of DaVita teammates there to welcome me. Tour DaVita was way more than a bike ride for me.
What was the highlight of the event for you?
You don't have enough space in your magazine to talk about that! The way I was received and the way people embraced me—from the airport to every day along the route—was truly amazing. Actually, it took me a few days after I got from Washington to truly understand and absorb what happened. I'm hoping that through riding the Tour I can help change lives. If I help make even one life better, this is all worth it.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experience?
I can't really find the words to describe Tour DaVita, but it was an absolutely amazing experience. Humbling, really, for a small-town country boy who's never been anywhere outside of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. Everyone in the DaVita Village showed they truly care. I can't wait for next year.