Steve Lee, a Cherry Willingham resident of over 20 years, was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2012 after suffering with symptoms for years, leading to a bad episode which left him in hospital for over 3 weeks, forcing him to learn to walk again.
“Since then, I’ve recovered and I’ve had great medical help and great service from the NHS with my own personal MS consultant” Steve explains.
A turning point was during lockdown, when Steve discovered cycling had a huge positive impact on his symptoms. The stronger he got, the better he felt, and so his 5-mile rides turned into 10, which turned into 20, eventually resulting in the decision to create a 100-mile bike ride.
Steve works at Jacksons Workwear Rental, who are no strangers to fundraising. They have held various fundraisers over the years for their chosen charity, St Barnabas. “Originally it was going to be just myself” Steve recalls. “I asked my boss if I could do a 100-mile bike ride with sponsorship forms to raise money for MS-UK. Things snowballed from there and all of a sudden, we had 14 people who wanted to take part!” Some hadn’t ever ridden such a distance, so the decision was made to also have a shorter 50-mile ride, with 8 of the team opting for the shorter distance. Steve also decided to split the money raised between MS-UK and St Barnabas to continue the company’s fundraising efforts for the hospice.
The team got to it and worked hard with plenty of meetings and training sessions. Steve has high praise for the organisation of the event thanks to his friends, family and colleagues, “It was fantastic! One of the guys drove in a support van with us, one of the ladies did all the food for us and we had lunch stops at Jubilee Park at Woodhall Spa who set up an area for us and the Post & Pantry at Donington-On-Bain who opened up specially for us, we had t-shirts at the end with medals and a goodie bag – it was just so well organised, it was absolutely brilliant.”
At the end of the challenge, the team had a celebration with their friends and families, and it was understandably an emotional moment. “I couldn’t believe it; I was in absolute tears when we got back. It was so emotional because the family and friends who had supported us were all in one place – we had such a great ‘do!”
Collectively, the team raised an incredible £6,000 which was split evenly between the charities. Their initial goal was £1,500 but they surpassed the target in just four days, with the money continuing to roll in “I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of money raised – it was just incredible.”
There are already plans for future fundraising efforts in the pipeline, and Steve wants to encourage other people diagnosed with MS, who are able, to give cycling a try as it has helped him significantly with managing his MS symptoms and hopes it could do the same for others.