Ten-year-old Samaritan on a mission to help heal children's hearts

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

10-year-old Ethan Hayes is on a mission to help fix children's hearts. The Ngāti Porou young Samaritan rode in the 40km Quarter race of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge to raise money for Heart Kids NZ.

He may be smallest among the riders, but he's got a huge heart.

Every week 12 babies in New Zealand are born with a heart defect. Ethan set a goal to raise $1000 to help heal children's hearts.

“I felt bad that they couldn't do as much things as normal kids could,” he said.

Ethan first took part in the Taupō cycle challenge four years ago at the encouragement of his dad.

“I was doing the round the lake ride and saw the opportunity there for him to do the 5km kids ride and ride to the finish line with him as a parent,” said David Hayes.

“As it turned out on the day it was magic, really good experience to be able to cross the line with my son.”

“Cycling is really good for our Heart Kids. It's a low impact sport and it's really good for them to exercise,” said Heart Kids NZ CEO, Rob Lutter.

“When we do our 5km ride, we have a lot of kids doing that and 5km's for them is perfect.”

However in a twist of irony Ethan only found out this year that he himself has a heart defect.

“I thought that I was a normal kid,” he said,

“but when I found that out I was a bit sad. It makes me feel happy that I can help. It should get better hopefully.”

“He's a great young man. It's great that he's out there cycling,” said Lutter.

“With the hole in his heart, he's doing a great job just getting out there and cycling.”

Ethan's goal is to one day ride the Tour de France, which he looks well on the way to achieving.