Ethan Maurice bikes cross-country for a cause

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Ethan Maurice credits his life to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH). At three years old, he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called essential thrombocytosis (ET), and also has meningoencephalitis, both of which required him to spend extensive amounts of time in PCH.

“They saved my life,” Maurice said.


Ethan Maurice gears up on his bicycle. (Photo by Andi Sanchez)

ET is characterized by noticeably high concentrations of platelets in the blood that dramatically increase chances of blood clotting and death. Because of his diagnosis, Maurice spent much of his life as a PCH patient, where he developed a unique rapport with his physicians and support system there. Although he technically no longer has ET, he still interacts with his doctors at PCH.

Despite challenges with ET, meningoencephalitis and seizures, Maurice is now thriving at NAU, something he never thought he would be able to do. He studies biomedical science, something the doctors he interacted with at PCH inspired him to do.

“It completely changed the direction of my life. I didn’t really think about going into the medical field at all, but after all that, I feel like I can relate to patients so well,” Maurice said. “It’ll give me so much satisfaction to help people that were in my situation previously.”

Because of how much PCH impacted him, Maurice decided to integrate his desire to ride across the country with the intention of raising money and awareness for PCH.

“I want to give back to the hospital and this is the best way I can think of doing it,” Maurice said.

Although the idea to ride his bike across the country had been on the back of his mind for a while, using it as a fundraiser for PCH brought his dreams to fruition.

“What really was the point that I realized I could actually do this was to raise money for PCH because it ties the whole thing together . . . it brings purpose to the ride,” Maurice said.

Maurice approached PCH in August 2012, and they were “very moved” by his story. As the beneficiaries of the ride, they also advocate within his support system.

“They’re helping all along the way, [especially] with the little things,” Maurice said.

Outfitted with a bicycle and his brother Reid, Maurice is spending the summer before his senior year at NAU riding cross-country on the Trans-America Trail to benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Their goal is to raise $42,330 for the hospital, which equates to approximately $10 per mile they ride.

The Trans-America Trail stretches from Yorktown, Va. to Astoria, Ore., complete with small towns, mountain passes and blowing headwinds. The Maurices plan to average 60 miles per day, camping along the way while raising money and support.

“I imagine we’ll hit 120 or 130 miles one day. If we have the wind blowing at our backs . . . we’re just cruising,” Maurice said.

Although they do not have a set itinerary, the pair plans to finish by mid-August in time for Reid to return to high school in Phoenix and Ethan to return to NAU.

“We’re keeping it open; we’re going to enjoy it . . . It’s all open and I don’t want to limit it in any way,” Maurice said.

When reflecting on the experience and purpose behind the ride, Maurice hopes he can give inspiration to children in similar situation.

“It would have been really great for me to have that. When I first came out of that coma, I didn’t know where I would end up,” Maurice said. “There were some points where I lacked hope and it would have been great to have someone that I saw in my situation five years down the road and they were fully functional again, out there living again.”

Maurice is dedicated to PCH and being a role model to the patients there.

“I’ve recovered, and I want to be that example for the kids in the hospital,” Maurice said.

Maurice believes having PCH as a beneficiary for the ride will help him push through difficult parts of the ride.

“If I’m down, you know, I have something to pedal for; I have a reason; I have a purpose,” Maurice said. “I feel like I’ll be able to push through anything because I know a lot of kids will be watching and I’ll be out there for them.”

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