SportsPedaling the Gift of Life

Pedaling the Gift of Life

Ottawa native, Tom Colombi is the only Canadian selected for the 12 rider-team of the LifeSouth Community Blood Center’s Five Points of Life Ride. The “Ride” is a daunting 3218 kilometre journey beginning in Mobile, Alabama, rolling through Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina, before ending in Cedar Key, Florida, in early November. The Five Points of Life Ride promotes the need for five different lifesaving donations: blood, apheresis, marrow, cord blood and organ/tissue. Each of the volunteer team members is an avid cyclist and has a personal connection to one or more of the five lifesaving donations. The personal stories of the riders are shared throughout the stops of the tour. In 2004, Colombi’s older brother was diagnosed with a kidney disease which resulted in the removal of his right kidney. During his emergency surgery, he required multiple blood transfusions to save his life. This personal encounter highlighted the need for lifesaving donations and bolstered Tom’s lifelong involvement as a donor. During one of his donations at the Ottawa Clinic in 2005, Tom had a chance encounter with Steve Tipman, Regional Director for the Canadian Blood Services. Tipman learned of Colombi’s love and passion for cycling and asked him to consider the “Five Points of Life Ride” to be held in 2008. It didn’t take any more prodding for Colombi to jump on board. An avid cyclist since he was a kid, Colombi is one of three sons of Italian-immigrant parents. The brothers were taught from an early age that hard work and helping others was important. Colombi secured his first job as a newspaper carrier when he was only eight years old. Through new subscription sales, he earned enough points to get his first bicycle, a CCM Mustang, and has been riding ever since. In his teen years, he would visit Italy with his folks and while there he would help out at his Aunt’s grocery store by delivering groceries throughout the village by bicycle. Throughout his adult life, he maintained his love of cycling. In 2000, Colombi began training for his first half-marathon run. Since then, he has entered the National Capital Marathon twice. While he loved running, his passion remained with cycling and he continues to enjoy long distance riding as a member of the Ottawa Bicycle Club. “When Steve Tipman suggested that there was a way for me to use my passion to help others suffering from similar afflictions that my brother had gone through, well it was an easy choice,” say Colombi. Ride on Tom...right on!

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