A Preston man has completed a gruelling 400-mile cycle ride in the scorching heat of Florida.
Stuart Campbell, from Ribbleton, cycled from Key West to Orlando over four and half days with a team of riders.
The 35-year-old has so far raised almost £4,000 from the ‘Florida Cycle’ challenge for Caudwell Children, a national charity which provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families.
The money will be used for the charity’s Destination Dreams scheme, giving children with life-threatening conditions the opportunity to experience a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Disney World.
Stuart said: “I’ve done a few challenges before, such as the Three Peaks, but wanted to tackle something a bit different, and to do something which would make a real difference to these children and their families.
“When I discovered that the charity desperately needed funding for the dream trip to Florida, I felt compelled to register for the ‘Florida Cycle’.”
Stuart found out about the trip though his employer, Howarth Timber, where he has worked as an external salesmen for nearly eight years.
“Caudwell Children is Howarth Timber’s charity of the year,” he explained. “Through attending several charity events and reading material about Caudwell Children I began to understand the importance of their work, and how vital the holiday is for the families who go on it.”
He found the ride “enjoyable but tough” and said the afternoon heat and strong winds make the task all the more difficult.
“I was also very saddle sore too,” he admits. “It doesn’t matter how much your knees hurt, you soon get over that. But getting back on the bike is hard.”
Stuart, who enjoys swimming, badminton and football, took up cycling especially for the challenge, and trained by doing 40-mile rides three times a week in the run-up to his visit to Florida late last year.
He funded his own flights and the charity paid for the bike hire and accommodation, so now he’s hoping to smash his fund-raising target of £4,200.
As a group, the total raised so far is around £40,000 - enough to send four families to meet Mickey and Minnie.
Stuart says the condition of his young cousin also influenced his decision to take part in the event, he explained: “She’s only eight months old but she’s already spent several months of her short life in hospital with an undiagnosed condition.
“I’ve seen at close hand how this has affected her parents and it’s given me an understanding of the pressures and challenges associated with disability.
“The more I can raise, the more children I can help.”
Visit www.justgiving.com/stuart-campbellfloridacycle to donate.