NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. – Eleven days into a 5,000-mile, 14-state cross country road trip, Matt Schneider made a pit stop in Tampa Bay.
- National Donate Life Month
- To follow Matt Schneider’s journey and learn how you can register, visit: http://scooting4donors.com/matt/
- For more information on organ donation, visit: https://www.organdonor.gov/register.html
“That’s a fun ride,” Schneider told Trikaroo’s founder and CEO, Gina Garcia, after he parked his scooter in a bay at the company’s New Port Richey headquarters.
The road that brought Schneider and Garcia together is a long one. Schneider, 42, received his first kidney transplant when he was just ten years old. His donor was his mom. In the decades to follow, his dad and his brother would also donate their kidneys to him. Schneider’s last transplant, in 2015, was from an angel donor – someone who died and was registered as an organ donor.
“It gave me life. I wouldn’t be here at all if it wasn’t for all four of them,” Schneider said.
Garcia, on the other hand, knows the pain of watching a loved one go through an endless wait.
“My father was on the transplant list for a new heart, and he never received a heart. He passed away when I was 22,” Garcia said.
“Through all of my volunteering for the past 20 years, I’ve met a lot of people who passed away waiting for organs, and if more people were registered, they might’ve had a better chance,” said Schneider.
According to organdonor.gov, more than 113,000 people were on the national transplant waiting list as of this January. While 95% of adults nationwide support organ donation, only 58% are registered as donors.
So once Schneider recovered from his most recent transplant, Schneider decided he wanted to do something special to raise awareness. He decided to drive across the country on a scooter, educating people and encouraging them to register as donors along the way. He’s calling the effort “Scooting 4 Donors”, in honor of his four transplants. While planning the trek, he reached out to Trikaroo about using one of their scooters to make the trip.
“I thought he was crazy,” said Garcia of her initial reaction.
Still, she couldn’t help but admire the mission.
“I figured anyone who wanted to make that journey across the country, if we could do something to help, we were going to do it,” she said.
So they offered Schneider a discount on one of their models. Not only is Schneider’s Trikaroo faster than his old scooter, but it’s also equipped with headlights, a horn, and mirrors that make it road-ready.
Schneider set out from Miami, the city he received his first transplant in, on April 1.
“A lot of people are more interested in the trike and they want to talk about this, and then I tell them what I’m doing and they’re very interested. I’m giving a lot of people cards and information,” he said.
The trip hasn’t been without its setbacks. Schneider said he started out in late morning on that first day, which meant he was traveling during the hottest part of the day. He also got pretty sunburned in the beginning. Garcia said Trikaroo fast tracked a prototype canopy and planned to outfit Schneider’s with it during his visit.
“It’s hot, and it’s a lot of work, and it’s day after day after day, so what Matt’s doing is simply incredible,” she said.
“The biggest thing I say is during the darkest time of your family, you can save up to seven people’s lives and make up to 70 people’s lives better by being an organ donor,” Schneider said.
Schneider expects it will take seven months to reach San Francisco, his final destination.