Friday, 24 May 2019

Charity cyclist starts with selfie

Charity cyclist starts with selfie

A MAN has begun a challenge to cycle 6,000 miles across Europe and complete 60 skydives along the way for charity.

Sam Clarke, 31, is raising money to help people like him who suffer from Alport Syndrome, a degenerative genetic disease.

He set off from Market Place in Henley on Saturday after bidding farewell to more than 50 supporters, including family and friends.

Mr Clarke, a film-maker, said: “I’m excited as I am terrified to get going but I’m totally ready for it. I’d just like to say a massive thank you to everybody for being here.

“This kidney disease is something that affects me every day of my life and lots of people across the UK as well but discovering [the charity] Alport UK has completely changed my perspective of this disease. It has given me hope and courage that together we can actually try to make lives better for people with Alport Syndrome.

“It’s the fear of not knowing how much worse my hearing is going to get, of passing this on if I have children, of how much worse my eyesight is going to get and the effects of dialysis on my body and whether dialysis is going to work.

“It’s the idea of harnessing these fears and turning them into opportunities like this one.”

Mr Clarke has left his job with Henley video production agency The Creative in order to take on the challenge, which he has named “Fighting Failure” and expects to take six months.

He cycled to Dover to take the ferry to Calais and will ride to Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Wroclaw, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Zagreb, Venice, Zurich and Paris before catching a train to Madrid and then cycling home.

He will stay in each city to undertake the skydives at local airfields, which he is qualified to do without an instructor. He will film each jump as well as highlights from his time on the road.

Mr Clarke hopes to raise more than £20,000 for Alport UK, which provides support and advice for people suffering from Alport Syndrome.

The condition causes tissue in the kidneys, eyes and ears to slowly degrade. Mr Clarke, who was diagnosed when he was two, has been told his kidneys are likely to fail within the next year and he will need either a transplant or regular dialysis.

His consultant has warned him that the challenge could make his condition worse but he says he will take precautions such as ensuring he stays hydrated and pacing himself.

Mr Clarke, will ride up to 80km a day several days a week while carrying about 20kg of food, drink and his maintenance equipment. He will not have a support vehicle but friends will fly out to meet him at various points.

He is being sponsored by his former employer as well as AW Cycles, of Caversham, and several overseas production companies.

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