This year’s RAGBRAI® ride holds added meaning as the late Mitch Einck will be among those honored by the Iowa Donor Network


To be honored during RAGBRAI® ... Mitch Einck, the son of Dave and Nancy Einck of Waukon who lost his life in a tragic fall in 2012, will be a featured honoree of the Iowa Donor Network during one day of this week’s RAGBRAI® ride. The photo above shows the front and back of a laminated card bicycle riders on the Iowa Donor Network’s first-ever RAGBRAI team will carry on their bicycles in honor of Einck and his choice to be an organ donor. Submitted image.

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI®) is taking on a very special meaning for a local family this year.

In its first-ever organized team ride during Iowa’s annual bicycling spectacle, the Iowa Donor Network will be honoring those who have given their own gift of life to someone else through organ donation. One of those honorees this year will be the late Mitchell Einck, a 2004 Waukon High School graduate and the son of Dave and Nancy Einck of Waukon who lost his life in a tragic fall in 2012 at the age of 26 but shared his gift of life with many others as an organ donor.

Pedaling with that added purpose will be the Eincks’ son-in-law, Sean Merrick, who is married to their daughter, Tiffany; raising their own family of three young children in Coralville. Merrick currently serves on the Iowa Donor Network Board of Directors and has previously served on the Network’s Donor Family Advisory Board.

“In a meeting last summer, with both of these boards, we were brainstorming creative ways to honor and promote donation across Iowa,” Merrick explained. “We landed on a bicycle ride across the state that’s able to be in contact with a large number of Iowans. RAGBRAI was the obvious fit as it’s the preeminent organized bicycle ride held annually in the U.S.”

From that initial meeting, Team Share It - the Iowa Donor Network’s first-ever RAGBRAI team - eventually emerged and is part of the Network’s larger Pedal for Life campaign to help promote organ donation. This year’s RAGBRAI event will feature a team of 15 people, including Merrick, each with their own personal motivation but all with the same goals in mind.

“The first is to ride in remembrance and honor of our loved ones who have helped to give the gift of life to someone else through organ donation,” Merrick explained. “In my case, I am riding in remembrance of Mitch Einck. Mitch is a brother-in-law, godfather to one our boys (Benjamin), and a friend. Mitch, through his own desire, made the decision to become an organ donor. Those that know Mitch would not be surprised to learn this, as he is a caring and selfless man.”

During each day of this week’s RAGBRAI ride, the members of Team Share It will be cycling in special honor of a particular loved one. Merrick said that one of those days, the entire team will be riding in honor of Mitch, with each rider having a laminated card (both sides of which are pictured accompanying this article) attached to their bicycle featuring a brief biography and photo of Mitch. Merrick will also get a chance to speak about his fallen brother-in-law prior to that day’s ride, although that specific day has yet to be determined.

“It will be an honor to ride with purpose next week in remembrance of Mitch across the state that he loved so dearly,” Merrick reflected. “How special would this have been last year (when RAGBRAI had its first-ever overnight stop in Waukon) with the potential of riding from Cresco to Waukon, or Waukon to Lansing, in Mitch’s honor?  In any event, 2018 is the year we’ve coordinated this team ride and we are energized to cycle with a purpose.”

Merrick said the second goal of this inaugural RAGBRAI team ride is to promote Iowa Donor Network’s organizational vision of “All are inspired to donate life”. He further explained that Iowa Donor Network is a non-profit organization and operates as Iowa’s sole organ and tissue procurement organization, striving to provide the best possible care to donor families and educate Iowa communities through supporting events focused on promoting donation. Merrick also said that the Iowa Donor Network team will be passing out green Iowa Donor Network bracelets to help further its mission.

“I invite everyone to visit the Iowa Donor Network website (iowadonornetwork.org) to learn more about how the organization serves Iowans,” Merrick urged, adding that registering to be a donor can also be accomplished on that website. “One of the responsibilities of the Iowa Donor Network is to manage the Iowa Donor Registry. As of July 18, there are currently 722 Iowans waiting for an organ transplant.”

Riding with both a personal and much larger overall motivation, Merrick sees this first-ever RAGBRAI team ride as both a privilege and an opportunity. “Cycling on this team with a mission and purpose that began through Mitch’s thoughtful spirit is an honor,” he shared. “Our family enjoys sharing stories of Mitch and the opportunity during RAGBRAI to be focused on this is pretty special.”
 

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