A cross-country journey to raise awareness about a genetic heart disease rolled into Ottawa on Saturday
OTTAWA -- An Ontario man cycling across Canada to raise awareness about Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy peddled into Ottawa on Saturday.
Adam Hoerdt stopped in the capital to meet supporters before he heads southwest to Brockville, then on to Waterloo, Ont.
Known as ARVC, it is a genetic disorder that can cause sudden cardiac arrest in people who appear perfectly healthy.
Hoerdt says the disease of the heart muscle has affected members of his family, including his children. He also lost his wife to the disease 20 years ago.
"We lost my wife in 2001 at the age of 31 while we were doing something that we loved, side-by-side on the outfield of a softball game," Hoerdt said. "My 23-year-old son has had five cardiac arrests from this disease and is currently in a vegetative state in Cambridge, Ont."
Hoerdt’s other son Benjamin also has ARVC, along with six other members of their extended family. He says what his dad is doing makes him proud and has created a network of people across the country who are there to support each other.
"It’s been nice to find a support network, like all the people that are here today, to help get through it as a community not just have to go through it on our own," Benjamin said.
The ARVC diagnosis has given him the chance to reflect on his life and find ways to make it better.
"It completely changed my outlook on life, I was kind of not the person I’d have liked to have been for some of my life, this really made me open up," Benjamin said. "Don’t postpone joy, don’t hesitate. If you enjoy something just do it."
Hoerdt’s says he has three goals in this journey - Raise awareness, build a family support network, and support research into ARVC. His family foundation is raising $75,000 a year to support a research fellowship.
"We don’t have to be content with, 'Oh somebody died of a bad heart or cardiac arrest', let’s figure out why and ARVC is one of the reasons why it happens.”