Man bikes across Canada after heart condition claims wife, injures son

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Adam Hoerdt’s heart is in the right place.

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After his wife Jackie died 20 years ago from a rare heart condition that causes sudden cardiac arrest and their 23-year-old son Greg was left brain damaged and in a vegetative state after his fifth cardiac arrest, the Mississauga man decided to do something.

So he hopped on his bike for a cross-Canada trip — in two parts — to promote awareness about arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, or ARVC as it’s been shortened, and raise $75,000 for a research fellow to work at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at UHN in Toronto

“There’s two things that make me feel good and that I do well, and that’s talk and ride a bicycle,” said Hoerdt, 51, who’s expected to arrive in Pickering on Friday and Mississauga on Saturday.

“So this kind of fits nicely,” he said. “It’s been unbelievable.”

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The first part of Hoerdt’s journey began Aug. 27 in St. John’s, Nfld., and will wrap up in Waterloo on Thanksgiving Monday and the second 10-week leg will take place next May when he leaves Victoria, B.C. and heads east.

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“The original plan was to go coast-to-coast but we got COVIDed,” said Hoerdt, who’s taking a break from his high school math teaching career.

Hoerdt’s wife Jackie, who was his high school sweetheart, died at 31 after a sudden cardiac arrest while they were playing baseball in Milton, Ont.

“We had no idea why and they weren’t able to tell us what happened to her heart,” said Hoerdt.

Flash forward 17 years later, and their oldest of two sons, Greg, had a cardiac arrest at 20 while working for Purolator in Mississauga but was worked on with an AED (automated external defibrillator) and given CPR.

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“They saved his life,” said Hoerdt.

Greg went to hospital where he had three more cardiac arrests in the next ten days and was implanted with a defibrillator and released six weeks later.

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Finally, doctors were able to determine both son and mother had ARVC after finding her coroner’s report and a sample of her heart tissue.

“So we learned about ARVC for the first time when Greg had his cardiac arrest,” said Hoerdt.

Sadly, Greg had his fifth cardiac arrest a year ago at the age of 22 while in his apartment in High Prairie, Alta., and it took paramedics close to an hour before reaching him.

He’s now in a long-term care home at St. Andrew’s Terrace in Cambridge, Ont.

“This one broke me,” said Hoerdt. “He’s a different person now.”

For more information, check out the website arvcfamilysupport.org/ride-across-canada and the social media handle is #ride4arvc.

jstevenson@postmedia.com

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