Brave two-year-old Jack Miller has inspired a five-strong team of cyclists from Teesside chemical giant SABIC to tackle a near 500-mile bike ride to the Netherlands and back.
They aim to raise £5,000 for charities that support Jack and other children who suffer severe neurological conditions.
Inspired by the difficulties faced by Jack, whose dad Andrew is their colleague on the maintenance team on SABIC’s LDPE plant at Wilton, they will cycle 475 miles from the company’s Teesside plant, near Redcar, to another in Geleen, in the southern part of the Netherlands.
Nunthorpe toddler Jack, who suffers from a very rare and severe neurological condition that requires a huge amount of special care, recently spent two weeks in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.
Alan Ball, maintenance engineer for LDPE and event organiser of the bike marathon, said: “Jack is our inspiration for the ride. We felt helpless when he was in hospital earlier and, as a team, felt we needed to do something positive to help.
“That’s when we came up with the idea to support the organisations that help Jack and other children like him.
“We are all novice cyclists and have mostly trained individually – it’s hard to find the time to get everyone together for a 50-60 mile training ride but we’ve managed a couple. We know this ride is going to be tough, but I think that is what makes it worthy of sponsoring!”
Dad Andrew, who is manager reliability and integrity at SABIC’s LDPE plant, said he and wife Debbie have been blown away by the response from his workmates.
He said: “It is fantastic what the guys are doing for Jack. We can’t thank them enough for the time and effort they are putting in to this huge challenge.
“We’re overwhelmed by the generous donations received so far. Having experienced first-hand the great work these local charities do for Jack and other children like him, we know every pound donated will really make a difference to them and their families.
“We’re so lucky to have these organisations on our doorstep and can’t imagine what we would do without their support. But their work is only made possible by the efforts of amazing fundraisers like these guys and the kindness of their supporters.
“We wish the team lots of luck for their bike ride and really hope we can meet the fundraising target, which will make every ache and pain worthwhile!”
Among the worthy causes that the fundraising ride – dubbed ‘To Geleen and back for Jack!’ – will be Teesside charity Remembering Rebecca, which supports children with neurological conditions, particularly through the provision of expensive specialist equipment such as supportive seating, sensory equipment and specialist car seats.
Another charity set to benefit is Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice, where Jack and other children, along with their families, benefit from superb specialist respite care.
Now the team have officially launched their Just Giving page with a target of £5,000, they would like support to raise as much money as possible for these vital causes.
The team of five cyclists are Alan Ball, Andy Phelps, Simon Whitfield, Michael Fascia and Tom Robinson, who will be assisted by support drivers Sean Cunningham and Phil Berry.
They will depart from SABIC’s Teesside site at Wilton at 10am on Friday 30 June, stopping off at Whitby for fish and chips before cycling to Hull. They will tackle Rotterdam to Geleen on 1 July with an opportunity to meet their colleagues from SABIC’s Geleen site on 2 July. They will arrive back into Wilton on the 4 July.
To follow their progress throughout training and to donate to their cause, visit their https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Geleen-and-Back