Father and daughter Graham and Gemma Bacon from Maldon, Essex, are gearing up for this year’s London Bikeathon, the capital’s largest charity cycle event, to raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, a cause incredibly close to Gemma’s heart.
Gemma, 24, has challenged herself to the marathon 26 mile route on Sunday 15 September, after her close friend Michaela was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) this year, shortly before her 24th birthday.
After a couple of weeks laid up with ear infections and feeling generally very unwell, Michaela took a turn for the worse and was rushed to hospital. Following tests, she was told she had leukaemia, and was transferred to St Bartholomew’s Hospital to undergo chemotherapy immediately.
Gemma says: “When I found out I couldn't believe it at first, it didn't seem real. It all seemed so unfair, scary and surreal. It was only when Michaela messaged me the next day that it became real and I found it very hard to accept. She was starting a new trial treatment and was going to lose her hair, which was upsetting.”
Gemma is determined to be strong for Michaela and to support her friend in raising awareness and funds for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
“I enjoyed cycling when I was younger so, despite my penchant for chocolate, I looked for events and found the perfect one in the London Bikeathon. Cycling has been hard to get back into; my dad always takes me on the hilliest routes to build my strength up! It's exhausting but I just remember why I'm doing it and push through. I am looking forward to completing the ride alongside my dad, and know I will be proud when I’ve finished it”, she says.
Now in its 17th year, the London Bikeathon is expected to attract an impressive number of cyclists who will pass by some of the Capital’s most iconic and picturesque sights, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye, Big Ben, Tate Britain and Royal Festival Hall.
The prestigious event starts and finishes in the stunningly beautiful grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, and offers something for everyone. Cyclists can choose from a cycling marathon of 26 miles, 52 miles, and for the first time this year, an epic 100 mile bike route for those who really want to step up a gear.
Dan Solley, Head of Sports Events at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, says: “We are constantly inspired by the stories of those fundraising for us and the dedication of our supporters like Gemma and Graham. This year’s London Bikeathon looks set to be our biggest yet and it will be an incredible sight to see 7,000 Unstoppable cyclists set off on their route from the Royal Hospital. Every penny raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research will help us in our mission to beat blood cancer – stopping people from dying and making patients’ lives better. We wish them the very best of luck!”
To support Gemma and help beat blood cancer, please visit www.justgiving.com/gemma-bacon
To sign up to the London Bikeathon today and join our Unstoppable team, please visit www.londonbikeathon.org.uk