Hattiesburg man sets off on a 300-mile trek that’s both a fundraiser and somewhat symbolic

By J. DANIEL CLOUD,

Thirteen years ago, retired University of Southern Mississippi music professor Denny Behm was in Iowa City, IA, to attend a horn recital. That’s when he found out a friend of his in that area was in need of a kidney transplant, and also when he discovered that “living transplants” are possible.

Thus was born the YONOK ride: You Only Need One Kidney.

Behm donated one of his kidneys to his friend and became an avid advocate for living transplants.

On Friday, Aug. 29, Denny and wife, Kay Behm, headed to Iowa City, with a trailer full of bicycles in tow. Denny is going to ride 300 miles during the course of five days, on a recumbent tricycle, with some of his former students tagging along. Did I mention that Behm recently celebrated his 80th birthday?

“We’re going to ride from Iowa City to Minneapolis in five days,” he said. “Yes, for me it is symbolic. Not only am I an Iowa grad, but that’s where we were when we learned this was possible.”

Behm and his friends will ride from Iowa City to Minneapolis, ending at Hennepin County Medical Center, which is where Behm originally had surgery to donate a kidney to his friend.

“The plan is to start at 80 miles per day, then, of course, we’ll slow down,” Behm said.

Why are they doing it? There have been a few fundraising events, including a send-off Thursday, Aug. 29, at Moore’s Bicycle Shop in Hattiesburg, which continued at the Keg and Barrel. He hopes to raise $6,000, and as of Thursday night had reached more than $4,200. But it’s not primarily about raising money, Behm said.

“Mostly, this is about awareness,” he said. “We’re riding specifically for this one man, Barry Presley. He lives in Atlanta. He’s a Navy vet, a husband, and is the father of two beautiful children. He’s been in kidney failure for five years.”

Presley’s wife donated a kidney for her husband, but it was rejected within a few days.

I asked Behm if this will be a one-time thing, the one ride. He glanced at Kay then said, “I hope not. It’s something I’d like to do every year. Not the same ride, of course. This time, it’s symbolic.”

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