Friends use pedal power to raise funds on South American challenge

Chris pictured taking a break during his epic charity cycle.

Chris pictured taking a break during his epic charity cycle.

A Glengormley man is nearing the end of a gruelling challenge in South America, which has seen him cycle thousands of miles for charity.

Christopher Baird (27), along with two friends he met while studying Law at Warwick University, is participating in the fundraising effort which began in Cusco, Peru.

Chris, along with fellow lawyer Tom Whittle from Devon and Leo Harris, a banker and former X Factor contestant originally from Kent, will be completing their 13,000 km round-trip in the Peruvian city in June.

The friends are taking on the daunting challenge to raise money for charities close to their hearts.

Chris’s charity is the Alzheimer’s Society. The former Carnmoney Colts and Greenisland Boys player selected this worthy cause, as his grandfather, who was one of his biggest supporters while playing football, has been diagnosed with the illness.

Tom’s charity is Kidney Cancer UK, while Leo’s charity, ‘Right To Play’, transforms the lives of children across Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Due to the seasons, the lads started their cycle in the middle of the continent in the summer of 2016, cycling down through southern Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. They then flew to the top of the continent and carried on through Colombia and Ecuador, before they contest northern Peru, arriving back in Cusco.

Speaking to the Times, Chris’s parents, George and Suzanne, spoke of their pride as their son continued his fundraising effort. They said: “It is incredible what the guys are doing. We look forward to hearing how Christopher and the boys are getting on through our weekly FaceTime conservations. They have local sim cards and have been keeping in touch as much as they can. On Christmas Day we were able to FaceTime Christopher while he was in Chile. During our conversation, the boys had to move to a safer location as an earthquake occurred.

“They have seen some fantastic things during their expedition. They had been told that the Andes would be accessible on their bikes. However, when they got close to the summit, their route was blocked with snow. They had to carry their bikes for a number of miles before they were able to cycle again.”

George and Suzanne added: “We are incredibly proud of what Christopher has achieved. His grandfather suffers from Alzheimer’s. For him to pick the Alzheimer’s Society, it really means a lot to our family.”

Once the friends complete the cycle they intend to visit the Inca Trail before coming home.

The boys have an online fundraising page to collect donations in aid of their chosen charities. If you would like to make a donation, with all of the monies raised going to the charities, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=cusco2cusco

For more information about the cycle, check out the Cusco2Cusco Facebook page or www.cusco2cusco.com