HAWKE’S BAY, N.L. — The fifth annual Craig’s Ride for a Cure took place in Hawke’s Bay on July 21.
This year’s ride included a memorial service atop Bluey Mountain in honour of the ride’s founder, Craig House.
Craig suffered from non-alcohol related cirrhosis of the liver disease. His father and sister died of the same disease.
He received a liver transplant in April 2016. However, he went into liver rejection and lost his battle with the disease on July 25, 2017. He was 52-years-old.
A monument has been placed atop the mountain, which was Craig’s favourite spot, says his wife Lisa.
“When he was dying, Craig told me he wanted me to put a monument on Bluey Mountain... he wanted his face (on the monument) so that when I’m up there looking out over the mountain, I would always know that he’s there with me.”
How it began
Craig spent much of his time over the last years of his life (leading up to his transplant) in hospital.
Lisa said she and Craig soon realized how blessed they were with being surrounded by a large circle of family and friends, who helped them live life one day at a time.
“We started to realize how hard it was to get through the system. We saw a lot of things our local hospitals were doing without.
“We started (Craig’s Ride for a Cure) to bring communities together, to bring people together who were going through sickness and to support them in any way possible,” Lisa said.
Craig’s Ride for a Cure stands for Courage, Research, Fundraising, Awareness and Cure, Lisa explained. Those are the things that were important to Craig, she said.
In addition to promoting organ donation (Craig encouraged people to get tested as potential organ donors), helping transplant patients and raising awareness about liver disease, proceeds from the ride are also used to help purchase equipment for hospitals in the area.
A non-profit foundation, Craig’s Ride for a Cure also helps people throughout the year. At Christmas time, Lisa said, there are food drives and toy drives.
Lisa said she is grateful to the owners and staff at Torrent River Inn. The business has been on board with the ride from the beginning, she said.
“We needed someone to believe in us. I went to the Torrent River Inn and told them that Craig got a terminal illness and that I was going to do whatever he wanted me to do. Without hesitation, they took us on and backed us 100 per cent.”
The ride begins and ends at the Inn, she said, and includes a meet-and-greet as well as a dinner and dance.
During the first year the ride took place supporters raised about $4,000.
The amount has grown over the years, Lisa said, and the event brought in about $10,000 in 2017.
“I’m pretty sure we are close to that, $10,000 again this year,” she said noting that donations had yet to be calculated.
“And I want to thank all the people for their support and my amazing committee and all the other volunteers for their help as well,” Lisa said.
Craig’s final days
In 2017, Craig spent his time in bed in a room at the Inn, too ill to participate in the ride but released from hospital long enough to be part of the event.
While she was on top of the mountain last year, Lisa knew her husband was very ill. She asked other riders to join her in prayer.
“Everyone formed a circle around me and came in close. We had a prayer and I have never felt anything so powerful as I did that day on the mountain,” Lisa said.
Following the prayer she rushed back to the Inn. Her husband’s health had deteriorated rapidly during the short time she was gone, she said.
He died in hospital a couple of days later.
Lisa describes her husband as a strong, courageous man and, most of all, a fighter.
One of his favourite sayings, she said, was that it’s not what you take from this world, it’s what you leave behind.
“Craig would always say that, if he could save one life, it would be worth his journey... Right up to his death he still believed in hope and miracles.... that his life wouldn’t be without cause,” she said.
Thanks to Lisa, the couple’s son Aaron and Craig’s other family, friends and supporters, his legacy will indeed live on.
Earlier stories: From one House to another