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Cornea Transplant Recipient To Ride Six Hours In Bike Shop For Charity

Published January 23, 2020

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Donations to support Team Ohio's trip to the 2020 Transplant Games of America

Columbus, Ohio – Six hours on a bike isn't easy—and indoors it can be a downright slog. But cornea transplant recipient and triathlete, Mari Fridenmaker, trains seven days a week and is committed to riding for a cause that's close to her heart: the 2020 Donate Life Transplant Games, which celebrates transplant recipients and raises awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation. Members of the community are invited to stop by and cheer her on, and make a gift to support her trip.

Fridenmaker received the gift of sight in the form of a cornea transplant after her dog accidentally scratched her eye in December 2000, causing an infection. She spent several months on disability, unable to drive, use a computer, or leave the house during daylight hours.

After extensive treatment to fight the infection, Fridenmaker received a cornea transplant in April 2002.

"I couldn't believe what a gift the surgery truly was. I was back at work in just a few days," says Fridenmaker. "It was more than the gift of sight. I was given the gift of a new outlook on life. I learned the importance of a positive attitude, and sincere gratitude. After so much time indoors, I realized what a blessing it is to spend time outdoors and to have an active lifestyle. Triathlon became my outlet."

As a member of Team Ohio, Fridenamker will compete in the 5K road race and several swimming events. The funds she raises through her Spin-a-Thon will support Team Ohio's participation in this unique, uplifting event. Competition events are open to organ transplant recipients, bone marrow recipients, corneal and tissue transplant recipients, donor families and living donors.

Fridenmaker has been a customer of Johnny Velo Bikes since it opened in 2018. She conducts introductory triathlon clinics at Johnny Velo Bikes and will be teaching bike handling skills in the spring. Owner John Robinson is happy to support his customers' goals, and partner with them, especially for a good cause.

"Mari's excitement for cycling, her warmth, and her great attitude are contagious," says Robinson. "On top of that, she's an amazing athlete."

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