On Sunday 28 June, over 1,000 supporters of Cure Parkinson’s took to the saddle to take part in the charity’s ‘Raid Local‘ cycle challenge, the first of our multi-participation events for socially distant times. Led by Cure Parkinson’s patron Mike Tindall, ambassador Iain Balshaw MBE and CEO Will Cook, the team took on multiple testing hill climbs throughout the day, and have so far raised an astonishing £250,000 (including Gift Aid) for Cure Parkinson’s vital research. And climbing!

Inspired by the charity’s iconic ‘Raid Alpine’ challenge that was due to start that day but postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, our original group of 44 individuals grew to an incredible team of over 300 riders, all of whom attempted to complete the distance of 137km on their local roads, with 3,700 meters of ascent, to emulate the first and most challenging day of Raid Alpine. Participants from across the UK, USA, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Asia and Monaco took part, by creating then riding their own individual routes, all close to home. And a host of celebrities joined hundreds of other Cure Parkinson’s riders taking part in an identical virtual cycle challenge, over the same distance and ascent, using the well-known home cycling app ‘Zwift’. 

Our team included many inspirational individuals. They included six people living with Parkinson’s, who showed amazing commitment, drive and some humour to take on this epic challenge: Scottish supporters Janet Kerr and Stuart Robb (with fellow supporter Kirsteen Ross) took on the brutal 220m Falkland Hill between Dundee and Edinburgh 17 times to achieve the distance and ascent;  Cure Parkinson’s ambassador Alison Anderson, her husband John and their team of fellow ‘Cyclopaths’ took on some of the toughest hills in Gloucestershire to get there; Dr Claire Lehman, a GP diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago, completed her route alongside partner Michael on many of Dorset’s finest hills; and Cure Parkinson’s enthusiast Simon Cooper took on the toughest that the Chiltern Hills had to offer, alongside his ‘Equipe Escargot’ (their motto being “never knowingly overtaken anyone”).

Finally, Cure Parkinson’s was delighted that the Chairman of Parkinson’s UK, Gary Shaughnessy, who lives with Parkinson’s himself, made the grade (and distance) by climbing the short sharp hill near Kingsclere, between Reading and Andover, 52 times!  All of this fantastic team, and all our brilliant other riders, were raising funds and awareness for Cure Parkinson’s; Gary in addition was raising funds for Parkinson’s UK, the worthy UK charity supporting the whole Parkinson’s community. Cure Parkinson’s CEO Will Cook collaborated closely with Gary throughout this fundraising challenge, just as Cure Parkinson’s collaborates closely with Parkinson’s UK where the charities’ research interests coincide. There is much to celebrate here.

Our Raid Local event was also hosted virtually by Zwift, and saw over 700 supporters join one or all three stages of the challenge, from their smart trainers at home, to ride alongside a team of sporting legends including Olympic and World Champion cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, Cure Parkinson’s ambassador & Rugby World Cup winner Iain Balshaw, rugby legends Shane Williams MBE and Austin Healey, British Olympic skeleton racing champion Amy Williams MBE, English professional golfer Lee Westwood OBE, and TV and radio broadcaster Kirsty Gallacher. The ride was extremely tough (virtually) but all had time to joke and chat throughout the day, with several Instagram Live broadcasts involving all the celebrities during the ride.

What a fantastic day! The Raid Local was so much harder than I expected – 12 hours of rain, pain, wind, sleet, sunshine – but all I remember is blue skies, amazing supporters and inspirational Cure Parkinson’s riders on the hills. A huge thank you to all 1,000 riders who took part in this epic challenge, including Cure Parkinson’s patron Mike Tindall and his team of sporting legends. Together we have raised an incredible amount for research into a cure for Parkinson’s – I am proud and humbled by the massive support this event has received.  Because of you, I have even more confidence that we can prevail, together, to cure Parkinson’s. Sincerely, thank you, to all involved.

Will Cook, CEO Cure Parkinson’s

Everyone at Cure Parkinson’s would like to take this opportunity to say a huge and heartfelt “thank you” to all the brilliant cyclists and wonderful supporters who took part in the inaugural Raid Local. We’ve been blown away by everyone’s determination and generosity – what an amazing day!

The funds raised from Raid Local will go towards Cure Parkinson’s pioneering and vital research into a curative treatments for Parkinson’s. Thank you!

Cure Parkinson’s would like to thank Zwift for hosting the virtual Raid Local and Rapha for their support and publicity. Thank you to our lead sponsor, Peninsula Petroleum, as well as our other corporate sponsors wattbike, Marmot Tours, Alpha FX, Niftylift, LSH Investment Management, Marks & Clerk, Christchurch Investment Management, Bray & Krais, Simmons & Simmons, Taqarabu Hybrid Communications, Levmet, Wordley Partnership, Savills, Sentient Communications, Lapwing and Compariqo. All these sponsors have donated freely to the charity to support this challenge; in addition, their names appear on our unique, beautiful ‘Jersey of Hope’, with proceeds going to Cure Parkinson’s.

Finally, for the sake of our goal to cure Parkinson’s, the great success of Raid Local should not be a ‘one-off’. The event forms part of Cure Parkinson’s ‘Raid Series’, involving similar and expanded rides throughout 2021 and beyond. If you would like to find out more or register your interest please take a look at our 2021 Raid Series here.

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