Τρίτη, 10 Απριλίου 2012

Epic cycling journey begins

Tom Kokoris has just set out on a truly awesome journey - cycling from Sydney to Greece to raise $1m for Greek cancer charity ELPIDA. But this inspirational voyage needs all our help to succeed.

"It's going good," says Tom Korakis, somewhere on the Pacific Highway, south of Taree in New South Wales.

"It's only our third day, so we're a bit sore in the legs, but we're doing alright."
I've called Tom as he takes a roadside stop to hear more about the remarkable journey he has embarked on to raise funds for the Greek charity ELPIDA (Association of Friends of Children with Cancer).
After training for eight months, Tom (58) and his 20 year-old daughter Olga, began their inspiring voyage in Sydney on April 1.
The journey will cross three continents before finishing at Tom's birthplace in Laconia, Greece.
When not in the saddle, Tom, with his brothers, runs one of Sydney's major supermarket distribution companies. With a love of cycling from an early age Tom rode racing bikes at the Lidcombe Auburn Cycling Club, where he was club secretary for five years.
By the time we talk, late morning on Day 3, Tom and Olga have covered 320 kms and are on track to get to Brisbane as per their carefully planned schedule. Arriving in the Queensland capital on April 9 will enable them to catch a flight the following day to Los Angeles for the US leg of their journey.
Challenges so far?
"The traffic out of Sydney was horrendous," says Tom " and we've had a few saddle sores, but that was expected on the initial stages.
"Carrying a 23 kg load is the major challenge, and some of the roadworks along the Pacific Highway makes it difficult sometimes, otherwise it's been really good so far."
Though the intention was to avoid highways, says Tom, the weight of their loads combined with the benefits of cycling straight, means that they will have to hold their own alongside the roadtrains on the major interstate roads as they head north.
Without business sponsors so far, and with the added complexity of a Greek charity being the beneficiary for the funds raised, Tom is having to meet flight costs and accommodation himself.
But the journey, even though in its infancy, has already attracted generosity from well-wishers along the way.
"You have to have a good night's rest before you head off on the next stage," says Tom, " but even in the first few days, people have been really lovely. When we stop along the way and tell them what we're doing, the hotel may be $100 and they give us $50 off as a donation."
Tom is keen to point out that as well as individual donations, any kind of business sponsorship would be warmly welcomed and can be incorporated into the American and European legs of the journey.
"The media in Greece seems to say I'm doing everything myself in terms of fundraising, but that's not possible unless you are a high-profile individual, so we're very keen to spread the message that we can only succeed with everyone's help."
It's not the first time Tom has gone out on a limb for others in need. Two years ago he cycled 800 kilometres across Thailand to raise money for children made homeless and orphaned by the 2006 Tsunami. But this ride to Greece, covering around 1200 kms dwarves his first charity ride.
Tom and Olga will arrive in Los Angeles on April 11, before taking 47 days to ride the 5000kms across the United States.
They'll then enjoy a two-week break in New York where they will be met by family, who will fly rather than get there the hard way.
After pausing for breath in the Big Apple, Tom will then journey on to Lisbon on his own to begin the final 5,500 km European leg. His route will wind across Portugal, Spain and France and head down through Italy, before crossing Greece's border at Igoumenitsa.
Before finishing the journey at his birthplace, in the village of Richea in Laconia, he will stop in Ermione, Argolis, to take part in a modest ceremony that will be attended by ELPIDA's founder and UN goodwill ambassador Marianna Vardinoyannis. At Ermione, the total funds raised during his journey will be revealed. The target set is $1 million and all proceeeds will go to help Greek children suffering from cancer and leuakemia.
With more than 100 days of cycling across the globe in front of him, Tom is optimistic that as more people become aware of the journey and its cause, the target can be achieved.
But it will take more than us applauding Tom and Olga's efforts to ensure their inspirational ride delivers what it deserves.
To follow Tom, and for details on how to make the vital donations Tom needs to reach his target, go to Facebook and search for 'ELPIDA-Association of Friends of Children With Cancer' You can also follow Tom via his blog at http://podilato-elpida.blogspot.com.au/
Tom says he wouldd love to hear from everyone and anyone interested in the trip, and who want to share a message of encouragement while he's on the road. You can mail him at: tkokoris@me.com

 By Mike Sweet
Neos Kosmos

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