Grandfather completes trek across the US for grandson in need of kidney

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — A grandfather has been trekking across the country on his bicycle for the last 80 days and he’s doing it alongside his friend to raise awareness for his eight-year-old grandson Broderick.

Broderick lives in Colorado and is in need of a kidney donor.

On Monday, the trek, which began in California, came to an end as Grandfather J.D. Norton dipped his bike tires into the ocean in Hull, Massachusetts.

Norton says the idea to bike across the country came from his friend, Tom, who wanted to do the trek for his own reasons.

“As an effort to raise awareness and funds for research for sarcoidosis, a disease that my wife passed away from in the summer of 2021,” said Tom. “As time went on it morphed into an awareness for the kidney for Broderick, which is a more urgent cause now.”

Norton said when Broderick was born, he lost total function of one of his kidneys and partial function of the other. His family knew someday he would need a kidney but they didn’t think it would be so soon.

“He barely made it, he was very sick, ICU, he turned the corner, and he was going to make it but he lost total function of one kidney and partial function of the other,” said Norton. “He contacted COVID, and that reduced the function of his remaining kidney so now he’s on the transplant list.”

“The list is greater than 100,000 people waiting and 25% of kidney transplants are through living donors, so we like to think there should be some advocacy for living-donor bill-of-rights-type legislation,” Norton continued.

Norton said while biking across the country, he spoke to people about the importance of organ donation and living organ donors.

“The importance of a living donor is the recipient has a greater chance of survival and longevity with a kidney,” he said. 

As Norton completed his journey in Massachusetts, he is hoping the buzz of his trek will help find Broderick’s kidney match.

For more information on how to get involved, visit the American Kidney Fund’s webpage.

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