During Euro 2004, a team of 10 cyclists will be riding to each and every football stadium involved in the tournament as part of a bid to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. The distance covered by the cyclists will be nearly 500 miles.
The race is being organised by a British man whose 10-year-old daughter is suffering from this debilitating illness. Among the cyclists will be Kaddy Lee-Preston, the weather girl on BBC South-East, and, at 28, the youngest participant in the race – the oldest is 44.
The team arrived in Braga last Tuesday and were expected to start the race yesterday (June 17), when they head to the first stadium of Aveiro, a distance of 144 kilometres. They then travel on to Batalha (141 kilometres) and then to Lisbon (123 kilometres). From the capital they will head to Montemor-o-Novo (86 kilometres) and then to Castro Verde (122 kilometres) and, from there, they will travel to the Algarve (another 95 kilometres), aiming to arrive in Faro on Friday June 25 at around 11am.
Bob Clarke, a 41-year-old computer consultant from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, was inspired to organise the event because his daughter Sophie is a cystic fibrosis sufferer. She has to take anti-asthma drugs and bronchial dilators, as well as wear a special mask that helps to flush out her lungs. But the good news is that Sophie will be coming over to the Algarve a couple of days before the race ends, so she can greet the participants at the finishing tape.
Bob is looking forward to the event, enjoying as he does both cycling and watching football, but does not seek to conceal the serious nature of Sophie’s illness. “I can only hope that, like many other cystic fibrosis sufferers, she is not left in her 20s hoping for a heart and lung transplant. More than half of the people awaiting transplants will die before a suitable donor is found and, for those who find a donor, life after a heart and lung transplant is not without its complications. She, like all those with cystic fibrosis, deserves better. This is what the money raised by this cycle ride will help to achieve.”
The target for the charity ride is 21,000 euros, of which 17,500 euros have already been raised. The cycle ride will be filmed by a camera crew and shown on BBC Newsroom South- East. Up to the minute news on the team’s progress can be found at www.cycle2004.com