Riding for my friend

Dom Goggins with Steven's dad Graham

Dom Goggins with Steven's dad Graham

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A FUND-RAISER is making an emotionally-charged journey the length of the country on a charity cycling trek in memory of a close friend.

Former Astley St Mary’s student Dominic Goggins is pedalling from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research in a journey inspired by his friend Steven Blears, who passed away from leukaemia in 2003, aged just 19,

The ride is the latest in a series of charity events Dominic has undertaken to raise awareness of the disease, which has also included doing 15 marathons and running coast to coast, raising more than £16,000 for the charity.

His efforts were also recognised by being made an Olympic torch-bearer in the run-up to the Games in London.

However, his latest challenge for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research is even more of a personal tribute to Steven, with Dominic stopping at his best friend’s final resting place in Tyldesley Cemetery and laying his London Marathon finisher’s medal on his grave on the fourth day of his ride.

Dominic was met at the cemetery by Steven’s father Graham, who then joined him in the saddle for a few miles to help the fund-raising efforts.

Dominic, 27, said: “I’ve never attempted anything like this before, but this kind of pain is nothing compared to watching your friend suffer like Steven had to, and if this campaign can help to stop that happening to other people, it is absolutely worth it.

“Being able to pause for a moment at Steven’s grave, and share a few miles with his dad, means a lot to me and is a good way to kick things off. It also dispelled beyond any doubt the idea I might not be able to complete this.

“If he had survived he’d be raising money – he’d probably be doing this bike ride with me – and he’s been with me for every step of every marathon and every mile in training.”

Dominic’s epic 900-mile ride, which is seeing him battle the very worst of the British weather while spending up to 10 hours a day in the saddle for seven days, is only the first part of Leading Light, a new campaign he has launched to battle against blood cancers.

Dominic has set himself the target of raising £1m before the start of the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in four years’ time, and hopes to inspire as many people as possible to help him fund-raise for research into the treatment of leukaemia, lymphoma and other similar diseases.

Dominic said: “Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research does amazing work to make sure people are diagnosed quickly and accurately, improving treatment and sharing their unique understanding of blood cancers to save lives.

“But they need our help, and that’s what the Leading Light campaign is about. I really want people to come together to run, cycle or swim with me over the next four years, or do their own thing to become part of this movement over the next four years.

“I want the Leading Light campaign to be part of Steven’s legacy, helping people with blood cancers right now and working towards a world without leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. I’m not going to stop until that day comes.”

Dominic is blogging throughout his challenge and can be followed on Twitter @domgoggins. To find out more or donate, visit www.beatingbloodcancers.org.uk or http://leukaemialymphomaresearch.org.uk/leading-light/dom-goggins-leading-light