Julianna Zahn is walking for dad

Twelve-year-old Julianna Zahn is walking from London to Windsor April 24-26 as a tribute to her late father’s long struggle with liver disease. A father to Julianna and Kevin, and husband to Anita, Mike Zahn died August 29, 2007 after three failed liver transplants. He was ill all of Julianna’s life.

As told to Casey Lessard

He always joked with us, no matter how sick he was. He always had a good sense of humour, and I really loved that about him.
Even when he felt terrible, he always smiled at us and wanted hugs. He loved music so much and whenever he felt bad, he picked up a guitar and played. He loved animals, just like I do.
My whole life I had to watch my dad suffer. Doing this walk makes me feel that I am helping him because I always had to sit there and watch him suffer, and I couldn’t do anything. We had rough moments when he was really sick and he couldn’t take it. But we’d tell him that we loved him and a big smile would come across his face.
I always remember when he went away in the ambulances. You’d hear the sirens and see them coming in and getting him. And I remember him struggling to get up the stairs, because his bedroom was up there and that’s where he wanted to be.
I want people to know everything about transplants. The waiting, the stress. It’s not just surgery and pain. You have to go through all of this depression, and transplants are really difficult. Some people do well after transplants, but a lot of people are not so fortunate. The heart, the liver and the lung are the worst. Canada has one of the lowest rates of organ donation among Western countries. There aren’t enough donors. People need to sign their donor cards.
While I’m doing the walk, there will be people walking with me who have had transplants. It’s going to feel like he’s walking with me in a way. I know if he were here he would encourage me.
I know I’ll always have my mom to turn to because she knows what I’m going through; her dad died when she was my age. When other girls get to turn to their dads, I get to turn to my mom. I really am going to miss having my dad around to talk to and having a dad. That’s really going to be hard for me when I get married because before he died, the doctor asked him what inspired him to have the third transplant, and he said, “Because I have a daughter to walk down the aisle.”
Sponsor sheets are available at Westland Greenhouses, Country Corners gas station, Movie Gallery, Sobey’s, Twigs flower shop, New Orleans Pizza, Re/Max Doug Pedlar, The Fitness Centre, and Grand Bend Heating Plus.