Grandpa’s Ride hits the streets to support the University of Ottawa Heart Institute

OTTAWA — After 10 years of raising awareness and funds for the University of Ottawa Heart Institute through an event called Grandpa’s Ride, Daniel Shipman of Gatineau has decided it’s time to step back but not step out.

After receiving a heart transplant at 54, Shipman wanted to say thank you and raise awareness about the importance of organ donation and the amazing work done at the Heart Institute every day.

Starting out with 15 riders in 2011, the event has grown to well over 200 participants raising over $150,000 in the past decade.

“I’m just a small motorcycle guy driving around having fun and raising money for a great institute. When you fight for your life, you think you are all alone in the world but you are never alone not at the Heart Institute,” Shipman said. “The transplant changed my life and gave me a new outlook on life and a new vision of life.”

Shipman who is 65 has decided this year it’s time for someone else to step up and lead the pack. He says he is sure the event will continue and he will be there to motivate and support those who carry it on, while continuing to spread the message about the importance of organ donation.

“For me this will be my last year organizing Grandpa’s Ride, I don’t think this will be the last ride, though, I hope not,” Shipman said. “It’s made me discover life, made me discover people, the goodness in people. It made me respect life and has made me a better man a better human being.”

This year’s ride has been special for many reasons, coming as COVID restrictions have been loosened. It’s the first time in almost two years they have been able to gather as a group dedicated to this important cause.

“I saw tears I have not seen in the past 18 months so many smiles it’s heartwarming,” Shipman said. “I feel for all theses people that came and I thank them from the bottom of my heart and my family’s hearts.”

After raising more than $22,000 this year, Shipman says this was all made possible by the choice one person made to sign his organ donor card.

“I’m terribly sorry and saddened  by this young man losing his life so that this old man could live but he permitted me to see my two granddaughters grow up and a new grandson come to life, this is what organ donation does,” Shipman said. “The legacy of the Grandpa Ride is to take care of your health, take care of your family’s health, and that starts by loving yourself then you can love everybody.”

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