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Would you walk 10k for a new heart?

7/1/2019

By Andrew Fowler

Canadian Knight awaiting heart transplant raises $11k walking 10k

Would you walk 10k for a new heart?

OTTAWA, Canada — More than 6,900 participated in the 10K race during Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend held on May 25, 2019. But for Peter Lewis of St. Teresa’s Council 7702 in St. John’s, Ontario, he ran for a reason that was literally close to his heart -- to raise awareness for people in need of heart transplants.

Lewis moved from St. John’s to Ottawa in December 2018, after learning his cardiomyopathy — a genetic condition that can lead to heart failure — had worsened. He was diagnosed at risk for the condition nearly 10 years ago. The past year, he has been waiting for a transplant. He relies on an around-the-clock IV to provide fluids.

But that didn’t stop him from walking ten kilometers and raising more than $11,000.

“I was just trying to stay focused and keeping a regular pace going,” Lewis said. “I got in the zone and I just kept moving.”

Lewis has always been a competitive runner and has been inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Athletics Hall of Fame. He retired as a teacher and now is a passionate painter — he owns a gallery in St. John’s.

Despite his increasingly precarious health, Lewis remains active, walking whenever he can.

“The heart is a funny thing,” Lewis said. “You have to keep as active as you can as best you can, but even though it’s bad, you can’t stop moving.”

He found inspiration from his sister, who had a kidney transplant more than 25 years ago.

“She’s been on home dialysis for the past 10 years,” Lewis said. “But she doesn’t let that stop her.”

Through sponsorships, Lewis raised $11,460.00 for the Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation, a cardiovascular care, treatment and research organization. He finished the race in one hour and 44 minutes.

“The bravery and grace of our patients and their families who agree to step forward and give heart disease a voice is an important part of raising money for research, equipment and patient programs,” said Lynne Clark, director of Donor Strategy, Integration and Marketing for the Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation. “Peter's impact on this community and his community back home in Newfoundland is so much more than $11,460.”

Walking alongside Lewis during the race were a nurse and his wife, Tracey, along with their children Liam and Sarah. Lewis admits that the past few months have been stressful on his family, but their support has been vital to his spirits. Council 7702 has also been supportive, offering prayers and sending him their best wishes for the race.

“You realize that there are a lot of people standing behind you that you didn’t realize,” Lewis said.

He saw walking in the race as emblematic of what the Knights are about.

“One of the most important things is to love others as much as you love yourself,” Lewis said. “The Knights, that’s what they’re trying to do.”

On June 10, the “indefinite waiting period” Lewis was in ended: he received a heart transplant.

To join the Knights, click here.

Share your story with andrew.fowler@kofc.org.