I stumbled across Joel’s Wish while scrolling through my Facebook news feed and I was moved and inspired by the story and the people behind it.
I have been thinking of the right words to introduce Kyle and the rest of the team behind Joel’s Wish but in all honesty, Kyle’s words have so much more meaning than mine ever could and he has given me such great and in depth answers that I should just let Kyle do the talking.
Here are his answers.
Q. Would you like to tell us a bit about what you are doing and why you are doing it?
I am cycling 4000 miles across 15 US states in just 40 days because I support young adults with a terminal diagnosis. On April 21st 2015 I set off from Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco accompanied by my support team of Rich Clarke, Mike Baker and George Jacks.
In March 2010 I lost my best friend, Joel Lawrence, to stomach cancer when he was just 19 years old. It was Joel’s dying wish for money to be raised to support both Severn Hospice and young adults with a life limiting cancer diagnosis. During Joel’s illness his family and friends were constantly worrying about the financial implications of cancer – travel, accommodation and equipment costs. Due to the constant worry of money Joel’s family and friends weren’t able to make life long memories during his final days. The last thing you want to do when your Son and friend are dying is to spend most of your time worrying about the costs involved.
Having cycled 615 miles from Ludlow to Beaune (France) in 2012, raising funds for Joel’s Wish and Severn Hospice, I decided that I was ready to take on the challenge of a life time. In doing so I would be fulfilling Joel’s childhood dream of travelling across America
Q. You are on a tough journey and you have already mentioned that you have already suffered with anxiety. What has been the toughest part of the journey for you so far?
The toughest part of the journey has been mentally. I am spending between 5-10 hours a day on a bike with not a lot to look at in some of the isolated areas in America. There are a lot of thoughts that go through your head and it is difficult to keep motivated and pick yourself up from a bad place. From this I have experienced a lot of anxiety because, quite frankly, I haven’t been in touch with reality.
Q. Has there been any times you have wanted to give up but have found strength from somewhere to carry on?
There hasn’t been a time where I’ve wanted to give up. The cause behind the cycle ride is something so close to my heart that no matter how tough some of the days get, I remind myself of the pain and suffering Joel had to endure during his illness. Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that it has all been easy.
Sometimes I have got off the bike and thrown it on the side of the road, shouted obscenities at the lads in the support vehicle and experienced other abnormal/out-of-character behaviour. Joel would have never given up on me, as a friend, it is my duty to honour him and ride out the bad times. I have found that strangely enough, during some of the darker moments on the bike, I have felt Joel’s presence.
Q. Have you met any weird and wonderful people on your journey or people who have gone above and beyond to help you?
Nearly everybody we have met have been overwhelmingly supportive. With help from numerous Rotary Clubs along the route we have found that every single one of them have welcomed us as if we were family. The words of encouragement are welcomed but more so the humble support we are constantly receiving. (I would say the strangest people we met were in Colorado…)
Q. Where has been your favourite place to cycle through so far and why?
I have two stand out places I have cycled through which are Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah) and the Rocky Mountains (Colorado). Bryce Canyon was absolutely stunning – there is no reason for me to describe it as my words wouldn’t do it justice. As for the Rocky’s… Well, they were very tough and involved some massive climbs (over 11,500 ft elevation). However, at the peaks of the mountains I was greeted with spectacular views as far as the eye could see.
Q. Has this journey changed you in any way and have you learnt anything along the way?
The journey has absolutely changed myself and I think I can say that for the rest of the team too. It is a life-changing experience and to be treated and supported the way we have been is the greatest feeling. The planning of the challenge started in April 2014 and involved huge sacrifices from myself and the team. I spent over 12 months un-employed in order to maximize the success of the event. With a challenge of this magnitude it required an all or nothing approach. Ultimately the dedication and commitment shown by everybody involved has paid off in the biggest way possible – changing our lives.
Q. Have you and the people behind Joel’s Wish got any other challenges lined up for the future?
After the cycle ride I will be putting my feet up for a while in terms of new challenges. However, myself and the team will continue to fundraise for the USA trip when we arrive back in England on 17th June. The community of Ludlow and surrounding areas are constantly embarking on challenges to raise money for Joel’s Wish and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
You can donate by clicking here – Donate
Website – http://www.joelswish.org/
Text JOEL53 (+ donation amount) to 70070
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