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Get on your bikes for Messenger-backed Hearts and Minds charity
9:00am Thursday 29th August 2013 in News
PARALYMPIC cycling star Rik Waddon is set to saddle up on a sponsored bike ride through Cheshire, to raise funds for the Messenger-backed charity Hearts and Minds Challenge.
Rik has pledged his time to the Sale-based charity, which is dedicated to supporting families touched by autism, and aims to raise £1 million for an autism centre of excellence in the Manchester area.
He will launch the cycle – which will encompass a 40-mile intermediate and 75-mile advanced course, stretching from Bosley Hill to Derbyshire – at Capesthorne Hall, on September 15.
Rik, who represented Team GB at the 2012 Paralympics, is now calling on Trafford residents to join the challenging bike ride and attend the family fun day.
The advanced route, which isn’t for the faint-hearted, will see participants cycle up to the UK’s highest pub, taking in some of Cheshire and Derbyshire’s spectacular vistas and villages. The cycle encompasses a staggering 3,500 ft climb and will pass through Bakewell, Flash and The Goyt Valley.
Rik, who won a silver medal at the Paralympic Games, said: “I enjoyed every minute of the 300-mile Spanish cycling challenge I completed with Hearts and Minds, so I jumped at the chance of supporting the charity again.
“Hearts and Minds has made huge progress towards reaching its fundraising target. I now want to encourage as many people as possible to join the charity ride, and help us fund a new school that will transform the lives of autistic children in Manchester and the wider region.”
The new school will initially teach 25 pupils, aged three to 11. Comprehensive evaluations for each student will be carried out to identify their personal strengths and needs, and programmes will be developed and tailored to each individual.
All classrooms will have five pupils with one teacher and two teaching assistants. The centre will also offer an on-site occupational therapist and two speech and language therapists, who will work closely with the children. As well as working on academic skills, they will encourage the development of the pupils’ social and verbal abilities.
The centre will also provide family counselling, training for parents and training for emergency services personnel on the best way to approach autistic people they may encounter in their work.
Ian McGrath, founder of Hearts and Minds, said: “Following the success of the cycling challenge across Spain in May, we wanted to replicate the event for our supporters a bit closer to home.
“The funds raised by the cyclists will provide a huge boost towards reaching our fundraising target for the Centre of Excellence. We’re delighted Rik is continuing to support our cause and he should keep us on our toes during those steep inclines.
“We’re currently looking at a number of potential sites for the school and hope to move this forward in the next 12 months.
“Early intervention can be very beneficial to young people with autism, so we are dedicated to providing them with an opportunity to attend a school that is catered to their needs.”
The Family Fun Day will have entertainment for all ages including, two bouncy castles, face painting, pony rides and craft stalls.
The charity is currently looking for anyone interested in supporting the bike ride or volunteering on the day.
More information can be found on the charity’s website: http://www.heartsandmindschallenge.org/.
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