Brendan Kay ’05 finished an 8,800-mile bike ride from Shanghai, China, to Dublin, Ireland, to increase awareness of hemochromatosis, raise funds to fight the disorder, and encourage blood screenings for the disease.
Kay and his friend Ben Shuker rode an average of 75 miles per day, six days per week, and funded the trip themselves. Traveling for almost seven months, updating friends, family, and many other supporters through their blog along the way, Kay and Shuker cycled across 20 countries.
The pair’s travels included stops in China, Kazakhstan, Romania, Austria, Belgium, England, and many others before they finally reached their destination, the Republic of Ireland. Read more about Kay’s journey at shanghai-dublin.tumblr.com.
Kay and Shuker began their “Great Ride” on May 21, 2012, in China and ended on Dec. 7 in Ireland. Soon after beginning their adventure, Kay learned of his uncle’s struggle with hemochromatosis, a genetic blood disorder that causes the body to absorb too much iron. He decided to use the trip as an opportunity to raise awareness about the disorder and about $1,500 for the American Hemochromatosis Society. (To learn more about the American Hemochromatosis Society, visit americanhs.org.)
Hemochromatosis poisons the body’s organs and leads to life-threatening conditions. The disease is fairly common and afflicts one in every 100-200 people but often goes undiagnosed and untreated.
Throughout the trip, Kay and Shuker had their fair share of troubles, including visa problems that separated the pair for three weeks. However, Kay said in a recent press release, from sleeping in tents or on couches of strangers, “The one fundamental thing I have learned on this trip is that all people are good. We encountered so many kind people and such hospitable people in every country. There were countless acts of small and great hospitality.”
Kay and Shuker finally finished their “Great Ride” at the Dublin Castle, where they met Kay’s parents and cousins from Ireland and the United States.
Since graduating from Butler, Kay has spent his time traveling around the globe teaching English in Vietnam, Korea, Germany, Argentina, Australia, and China. He plans to return to the United States to receive a teaching certificate.
His advice for others? “Get out and see the world,” he said in the news release. “It’s awesome!”
Molly Kordas ’13