Charity partner: a closer look at Cyclists Fighting Cancer

600 375 Josh Puttock

Club Peloton is aligned with a number of charity partners, with grants from our fundraising events split amongst them. We love making a difference, and it’s great to work with organisations who do so much. We currently have four charity beneficiaries: Coram, Cyclists Fighting Cancer, MSA Trust and Tom’s Trust.

Cyclists Fighting Cancer is relatively new to our recipient list. It provides specially adapted bikes and trikes for children and young people fighting cancer, helping them to gain much-needed confidence and freedom before and after treatment.

We spoke to CEO and Founder Mike Grisenthwaite, who himself had a tough six-year battle with cancer, to find out more about the charity’s great work.

How are funds from Club Peloton used?

Mike Grisenthwaite (MG): We will be spending the money on specially adapted trikes and bikes for children and young people across the country. It’s a massive boost for us, having the funds that Club Peloton have promised and have already given to us. It’s all about getting kids active during and after treatment because it makes a massive difference to their outcome: it gets them back into life.

Why was the charity originally set up, and what does it do?

MG: Well that’s my fault, actually. I had cancer for over six years myself. I was an athlete before I was diagnosed, and I learnt a lot of stuff during those six years about exercise and its relationship with cancer. I initially wanted to know if I was doing myself any damage, but there’s a lot of evidence and research out there, if you look, that says that exercise is probably the best thing you can do – to an appropriate level – for your wellbeing, both physically and mentally.

Once I was well, having gone through all of this, I wanted to find a way to promote this message. So, I focussed on children at the start because it’s such a big field. The entire population of people fighting cancer is probably up to 200million, so I felt if we could influence the children and the young people then they would take the message on into their adult lives. And that makes the biggest difference. It’s been amazing.

One example is Keeva who is at Great Ormond Street Hospital. We saw her last year and organised a trike for her. I’ve just received a message from her dad, who said that not only did she love the trike, but she is now back on a two-wheel bike! The stuff that comes back from the children and the parents is priceless. It makes you realise what a simple tool, such as a bike, can do and how massive an impact it can have.

I always say it, but a bike can make such a huge difference. Not only for the child, but for their family, for their friends and for their school mates. It’s remarkable.

You have bike shops as well?

MG: We have three shops, like bike charity shops. We build up bikes out of a box and kids can come and pick them up with their families. It’s not the main purpose of what we do, but it’s brilliant and we’re hoping to have more of them. We’re delivering one to a girl on Monday, and if you read her medical history you would just break down. It’s absolutely horrific what she has been through.

But the fact is, we have adapted a lightweight trike with everything you can think of on it and she’s determined to give it a go. It’s going to cost about £2,500 for all of the kit, but they are the ones that make the most difference. Even if she goes around the block and then it never sees the light of day, even for that moment, that’s freedom. It’s really priceless to these kids. Some of them are kind of prisoners to the hospital, and it’s a way for us to lighten it up for them.

Whenever I talk to people, I always start off with what we do with bikes before then going into something heavy. For example, what the kids might be left with during and after cancer. Whether it’s loss of limbs, eyesight, balance or memory, or a loss of function in the brain, there’s a lot of really heavyweight stuff going on. On the face of it, it seems simple giving away bikes to kids. But when it comes down to seeing this girl on Monday, that’s when it really hits home.

What’s the best thing about what you do?

MG: When I go on the deliveries – and it doesn’t matter whether the child has multiple issues or is relatively well during treatment – it’s about leaving them with that sense of hope. They’ve suddenly got something they’ve got some control over. It’s the parents as well: seeing their child do something that is a rite of passage that all children should have the ability to do.

The amount of times that parents say to me that they never thought they’d see their child riding a bike, I have tears rolling down my cheeks. The reaction of the parents is the thing that keeps me going. Because the kids are cool, they just get on with it! When I said about choosing to work with kids – I was 37 when I got cancer. I used to drink beer, I played rugby and lived a normal life. But for these kids, they’re so innocent. I was super lucky; all the hard times have turned into something decent.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

MG: It’s a massive privilege to be part of the Club Peloton set-up, and we really appreciate the guys getting us involved. We’d love them to get more involved with the charity in any way we can.

Keen to know more about the daily goings on at Cyclists Fighting Cancer? Visit their website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook

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