At the tender age of 14, Brittany Stark died while waiting for a heart transplant. Even though it has been well over a decade since Brittany's untimely death, her family carries the pain of the loss as if it just happened. To deal with the overwhelming grief of losing a child, Brittany's mother has decided to embark on a "Mom on a Mission" journey.
Kathleen Stark is peddling a bike 620 miles across California to promote donor awareness in memory of her Brittany.
"I think she'd be very proud of me. I had self-talk with her often on this journey, just be with me, be my partner in this, and it was her inspiration, the fought that she had, that really carried me through this," said Kathleen.
She is almost at the finish line of her two-week ride. It's a journey that began in San Francisco and ends Friday at Children's Hospital in San Diego.
On Wednesday, we talked to her during her brief stop at a restaurant in El Segundo.
"As a mom, I thought I could express this to other parents that are waiting, that have gone through this," she said.
Her ride is touching a lot of hearts, including Liz Truxaw's, whose son, Christopher, and Brittany became friends while on the donor list for a heart. Christopher got a life-saving transplant.
"Unfortunately, Brittany never received her heart transplant. She waited 11 months and she died while waiting. So after Brittany had passed away, we made it our mission to go out and promote organ donation and tell people how easy it is," said Liz Truxaw.
Volunteers say while thousands of people across the country are on the list for organ transplants, many of them do not have to die if more people would sign up to become donors.
"A single donor can save the lives of up to eight people through organ donation and help up to 50 through tissue donation," said Sharon Ross with Donate Life California.
Stark says she is sure her daughter is smiling on her journey to save lives.
"What would Brittany say? 'I'm proud of you mom,'" Stark said.