Hospice cyclists show grit

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AS IF the gruelling 300km trek from Port Elizabeth to East London is not difficult enough, Mother Nature had to add heat and gale-force winds to the equation.

The annual St Bernard’s Hospice Cycle Challenge took place last week, in which 20 cyclists took on the challenge of riding 300km over three days for a worthy cause. The annual riding event kicked off eight years ago and has grown into a successful fundraiser for the local NPO.

Marchel Brown, event organiser for the cycle challenge, welcomed old and new faces to this year’s event in Port Elizabeth last Tuesday evening, and rallied the group up for their early morning departure for Alexandria the following day.

However, Wednesday’s heat and gale-force winds added to the challenge of completing the first 100km, leaving cyclists dehydrated by lunchtime.

FUNDRAISING JOURNEY: Riders in this year’s 300km St Bernard’s Hospice Cycle Challenge battle gale-force winds and heat in their pedal for charity Picture: BRUCE VIAENE

The cyclists refuelled and hydrated well before taking on the final 21km trek to Nduna Lodge in Alexandria.

The private game reserve’s pool welcomed hot and tired cyclists, leaving the group refreshed and energised for the following day.

Day two saw the cycling group speed through to Mpekweni, taking full advantage of the tale-wind at their backs, reaching their destination by 2pm.

The final stage of the challenge catered for an early morning cycle to Birha Farm stall for a farm-style breakfast. The group then cycled to Kidds Beach for lunch and then onwards home; finally arriving at the Premier Regent Hotel.

“What an admirable journey undertaken by our cyclists. I salute each and every cyclist and all the supporters behind them.

“The work done at St Bernard’s Hospice; the lives affirmed of those who are on their most challenging and vulnerable journey; is made possible through the generous support of individuals and companies which have further joined in various sponsorships,” St Bernard’s Hospice CEO Melissa Knox said. Every year, St Bernard’s Hospice requires R5-million to run efficiently and effectively; providing home- based palliative care and support to patients with life- threatening illnesses.

The organisation does not receive government funding for patients with cancer or motor neuron disease, and thus hosts fundraising events to provide care for them.

So far, R80000 has been raised from the cycle challenge, with donations still streaming in.

Companies or individuals seeking to donate their time or funds towards the organisation can contact Brown on (043)721-0051 or fundraising1@stbh.org.za

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