Twins Lexi and Skylar Clayton, of Marton, and their cousin Zierra Gorinski, of Tauranga, know first-hand how heart disease affects New Zealand families.
The twins’ mother and Zierra’s aunt, Maria Clayton, was a heart kid who went undiagnosed until she was 20, and Zierra, who is also a twin, has a 7-year-old sister, Evie, who was diagnosed at birth with congenital heart disease (CHD).
The girls’ grandmother, Ruth Gorinski, is chief executive of Heart Kids New Zealand, which raises money for children with CHD or rheumatic heart disease.
This year, Tour Aotearoa rider Greg McAllister raised money for Heart Kids as he has a CHD, and publicity surrounding his tour inspired the young cousins to undertake their own fundraiser.
They set a target of $1520 —$10 per kilometre cycled — and their fundraising link at helpingheartkids.org.nz/152kmforheartkids showed they had raised $1546 as of 9.30am on Tuesday.
Zierra said they wanted to help people like their family who suffered from heart disease.
They set out from Clyde on Monday morning for the first day of a planned five-day, 152km cycle on the Otago Central Rail Trail, scheduled to end at Middlemarch on Friday.
Mrs Clayton and grandparents Ruth and Mike Gorinski are accompanying them as support crew, also on bikes.
Monday was what they expected to be the hardest leg of the journey and also the longest, riding 37km to reach their accommodation in Omakau.
All five cyclists were tired, hungry and trail-sore after a head wind as they climbed Tiger Hill between Chatto Creek and Omakau, but the girls recovered more quickly than their older trail mates and were soon bouncing on the trampoline at their overnight accommodation.
There was no question in anyone’s mind that they would accomplish their goal of Middlemarch by Friday, as Zierra’s dad would be waiting there to take them all home.