Tauranga Moana native Vyron Smith is running from Bowen town to Mt Maunganui tomorrow, a total of 75km to raise awareness and support for kidney disease.
His passion for supporting this kaupapa comes from his own experience with his father, who has relied on a dialysis machine to stay alive for the past seven years, and he will be gifting one of his kidneys to him at the end of this month - giving his father a lifeline of another 10 to 20 years.
“I had to go through the test to see if I was a good match and, once that came back positive, then I knew it was meant to be,” Smith says.
Smith is a former rugby player for North Harbour and Melbourne Rebels, and for the past decade has dedicated his life to health, studying sports science and working as a personal trainer.
However, for the past two years, he has put aside his ambitions to help his whānau – Starting with his brother Jermaine in 2019, who he helped lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.
“Instead of going to Europe to play rugby, I moved over to Melbourne and moved in with him, his wife and three daughters.
“He went from 205kg and now he’s running marathons and weighs under 100kg, and he’s happier and just a different person.”
Smith will be undergoing the operation on November 26 and says that, following the surgery, he will be dedicating his time to helping whānau around the motu to help prevent diet and health-related diseases.