A Warwickshire man has challenged himself to embark on the major fundraising challenge to raise funds for Cure Leukaemia in support of his colleague Lizzie Dean.
Dr Thomas Holdstock, a Control Engineer for Leamington Spa-based engineering firm Drive System Design (DSD), will be cycling 3200 miles from Los Angeles to New York over 32 days later this year. He will set off straight from Los Angeles airport on Thursday 27th September (which is Blood Cancer Awareness Month) with his return flight from New York booked for 28thOctober. With just a bike, tent, sleeping bag and minimal equipment this really promises to be an extraordinary solo challenge.
Twelve other employees at Drive System Design will be taking on the 24-mile Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge on Saturday 8th September (also in Blood Cancer Awareness Month). They will climb the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough; a combined climb of 5200ft in under 12 hours. This challenge will conclude DSD’s third year of fundraising for charities that improve the lives of people living with blood cancer, to date raising over £18,500 since 2016.
The employees of the international firm are taking these events on to support their 29-year-old colleague Lizzie Dean. Lizzie was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, a form of blood cancer, four years ago and has endured a gruelling period of treatment during that time. After relapsing for a second time after a stem cell transplant in the summer of 2016 her prospects looked very bleak but thankfully she was placed on a world first clinical trial, made available by funds raised for Cure Leukaemia, and is currently in remission.
In July this year, Lizzie returned to work for DSD, working remotely for the time being, and met seven of her colleagues at the Centre for Clinical Haematology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham to wish them luck. Lizzie’s story was instrumental in helping Cure Leukaemia raise an additional £1m in 2017 to double the capacity of the Centre to allow more blood cancer patients access to pioneering treatments like those made available to Lizzie.
Speaking about her colleagues Lizzie said: “I’m so proud of my colleagues taking on such gruelling challenges to raise funds for the charity that means so much to me. I would not be here if it wasn’t for Cure Leukaemia and I am so thrilled to be back working for DSD despite the thousands of emails I have come back to! I hope they can raise substantial funds so that other patients can have another chance of life like I did.”
Dr. Holdstock said: “I am well aware that I am taking on an incredibly tough challenge but I am determined to complete it and raise as many funds as possible to help blood cancer patients like Lizzie.
It was inspiring to meet Lizzie’s nurse, Donna, and visit the Centre that Lizzie’s emotional story helped to fund and I’m sure that will focus my mind when the going gets tough in the States.
The Yorkshire Three Peaks team have a big challenge ahead of them as well and it is great that the company are rallying to support this great cause. I’m grateful to DSD for their support and sponsorship and I intend to be back at work at 9.30am on the day I arrive back in the UK!”
Cure Leukaemia CEO James McLaughlin said: “Lizzie’s story is truly inspirational and it is fantastic to see her colleagues at Drive System Design showing their support through two very challenging events.
We have had a few fundraisers in recent years taking on the extraordinary on two wheels and Thomas will certainly be in this bracket with what he is undertaking. I am sure seeing the Centre, Lizzie and Donna will provide great motivation for all the DSD staff during their endeavours.
Watch Lizzie's story below:
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