BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The warm embrace of two strangers captured the hearts of thousands earlier this summer.
Donor father Bill Conner biked from Madison, Wisconsin to New Roads to meet his daughter's heart transplant recipient, Loumonth Jack, Jr. Conner's daughter, Abigail "Abbey" Mae, was an organ donor. She died on January 12, 2016. Jack received her heart the next day.
For Bill, this meeting was part of a larger mission to encourage others to become organ donors.
"It's going to end our ride but it's not going to end our cause. This ride is about people that have lost children. We obviously know the pain that they're going through and our message along the way has been that you're not alone. Abbey and I love you and are here for you," said Conner.
The Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency or LOPA said within 48 hours of sharing the meeting online 18,000 people registered to be organ donors nationwide.
"I'm glad I'm helping people to actually get out there and be donors because it is a great thing. It saved my life," said Jack.
With one journey coming to an end, Conner is focusing on the special connection between him and heart recipient Jack Jr.
"I call him Abbey-Jack now. And he says I can call him Abbey-Jack," said Conner.
Jack Jr. said Conner is like a second father because he has his daughter's heart.
"Bill is a strong guy. He's a great father and like I said, I can spare my love and I will do that," said Jack Jr.
For him, Conner said Loumonth or "Abbey-Jack" is a member of his family now, with plans to celebrate Abbey's birthday together for many years to come.
"I think in a bigger picture, I think two families have won in this. Abbey's heart is exactly where it belongs and Loumonth will take care of her and she'll take care of him," said Conner.
"I love you, I appreciate everything you've done for me. I'm going to take good care of what you've given me," said Jack Jr.
Conner said his next step is to bike to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and visit with the medical staff that cared for his daughter in her final hours.
To find out more information about LOPA or organ donation CLICK HERE.