When Jeremy Scott was a toddler, he could not run around like other children.
And when his parents took their 2-year-old son to a doctor to find out why, they were told he had a heart defect.
They then had to wait two years until doctors thought he was ready for open-heart surgery.
Now the 40-year-old is closing in on the end of a 50,000-kilometre bike ride.
Scott wants parents of children with heart defects to know their sons and daughters can also hope for an active, fulfilling life.
Scott set off from London in October 2011 and sometime in the next few months he will end his 2 1/2-year trip in Auckland, where he was born and where he had surgery.
Although the monumental cycling trip started with Scott "wanting a challenge", along the way his mission became apparent.
While in Vietnam, he met a fellow New Zealander whose brother also had a heart condition as a child.
The brother died. "Meeting him was very humbling."
The meeting put into context how lucky he had been and Scott realised he "should make more of an effort".
He started speaking at international schools while he finished his travels in Southeast Asia, then in Australia he spoke publicly several times about heart disease.
"I was useless as a kid.
"I couldn't run round a field," Scott said.
By age 5 or 6, a few years after having surgery, he was playing sport. If there was any proof required that the surgery was successful, he has already cycled 47,000km since October 2011.
He said he was "just a normal person" and could live an active life without any further surgeries or health concerns.
Though Scott has been gathering donations for the Heart Foundation on his travels, he said it was the messages from parents of children with heart conditions that meant the most.
"It's given them hope their kid can have a really good life."
His travels have taken him through Europe and central Asia, to China and Southeast Asia, and finally Indonesia and Australia before arriving in New Zealand last week.
Despite snow and sandstorms, the hardest part was setting off in the first place.
His advice to others was to have confidence to follow through on an idea and to set achievable goals.
People can follow Scott's trip at quinsadventure.wordpress.com and can donate to the Heart Foundation at heartracer.org.nz/JeremyScott.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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