Preston North End manager and Prostate Cancer UK ambassador, Simon Grayson, has launched Football to Amsterdam – a dual-start cycle ride delivered by Prostate Cancer UK in conjunction with The Football League aiming to deliver a transfer budget of half a million pounds to beat a disease which kills one man every hour.
Prostate Cancer UK, the Official Charity Partner of The Football League, will stage its fourth annual football fundraiser from 3rd to 5th June 2016 and there are now not one but two grand departs, with riders able to roll out from London and a new start point in Yorkshire, at Oakwell, home of Barnsley.
Earlier this year, a 250-strong peloton including former international football stars Terry Butcher, Matt Holland and Luther Blissett, not to mention riders representing clubs throughout The Football League and beyond, raised more than £350,000 by cycling from London to Amsterdam.
Grayson made the trip in honour of his close friend, Stephen ‘Garby’ Garbett, who died in September 2014 - his team of 11 raised over £42,000, equating to £1 for every man diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK every year.
The 45-year-old Preston boss joined Stephen’s son David, who also completed the 145-mile ride, at an exclusive behind-the-scenes event hosted by Professor Norman Maitland at a research facility at the University of York this week to find out how his own fundraising efforts are helping Men United make important signings for the season ahead.
Professor Maitland’s team at the Cancer Research Unit in the University’s Department of Biology receives substantial research support from Prostate Cancer UK.
While the North End manager has sharpened his squad for their return to the Sky Bet Championship, the team at Prostate Cancer UK have also made some important decisions in their own dynamic transfer window, to allow a new generation of prostate cancer researchers to rise up through the ranks.
With a respectable transfer budget of £500,000, Prostate Cancer UK can add five new PhD students to strengthen their Men United squad and provide creative and attacking flair to tackle the disease.
Grayson said: “To ride in memory of my close friend, Stephen, and to do it with his son and some other great lads was an emotional journey. I won a medal for getting Preston to the Championship, but the medal I received for completing the challenge meant so much too.
“Together we raised £42,555 and to come to the research centre and see first hand what that money can fund is fantastic.
“It’s especially poignant to see that the amount the boys and I raised could fund a completely new area of research that could be pivotal in changing the lives of so many.”
In 2016, Prostate Cancer UK is relaunching their hugely popular football fundraiser from two locations – a northern leg starting from Oakwell, the home of Barnsley, and a southern leg that will start from the iconic Olympic Park – in a bid to recruit 500 riders from the football family to ride together for Men United.
Mark Bishop, Director of Fundraising at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “From our initial event in 2013 with a small group of 35 riders to a total fundraising tally which will smash through the £1m mark next year thanks to a peloton of around 500, our football-themed cycling challenge has proved a phenomenal success.
“Riders who represent clubs up and down the land show a brilliant demonstration of what we call Men United: people joining one team to fight a common opposition – prostate cancer. These vital funds raised – our transfer kitty - will help us fund research to help fight the disease and will help us provide dedicated support and information to men and their families affected by prostate cancer.”
Ben Wright, Commercial Director of The Football League, said: “Simon and his intrepid Preston contingent played a massive part in this year’s event, and he is a man who knows all too well the dangers of this terrible disease that kills one man every hour in the UK.
“We are proud of our partnership with Prostate Cancer UK and it was fascinating to get a unique insight into how the money raised by this great event will be invested. The help from Preston and the rest of The Football League family highlights how the beautiful game can make a game-changing contribution to men’s health.”
Early bird prices for Football to Amsterdam 2016 are just £99* and for more information about the ride, visit prostatecanceruk.org/amsterdam or contact the cycling team by calling 020 8222 7158 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Early bird registration for the 2016 Football to Amsterdam is available for £99 for the first 100 full registrations across the London and Barnsley start locations. Full price registration is £149.