Former Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion defender Darren Purse is getting on his bike to help ex-England international Geoff Thomas raise £1million for Cure Leukaemia.
Darren, 38, who now plays for non-league Staines Town, is joining blood cancer survivor Geoff on his 500km ‘London 2 Paris: Inspiring the Revolution’ (L2P) ride from June 18-22 – despite having never mounted a road bike before!
Northampton-based Darren, who coaches Rushden & Diamonds Under-18s and is Director of Football at the Malcolm Arnold Academy school, has only given himself seven weeks to get ride ready.
But he is determined to complete the 80-mile-a-day challenge and raise as much money as possible for Cure Leukaemia, the charity former Wolves and Crystal Palace midfielder Geoff owes his life to and is Patron of.
Darren, who won two England Under-21 caps, experienced many nerve-shredding moments during his 20-year career as a pro, including converting two penalties during Birmingham’s epic 2001 Worthington Cup Final against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium.
But he claims he is almost as apprehensive about his forthcoming fundraising cycle ride!
“I’ve only ever flown into Paris so goodness knows what it’s going to be like cycling there over four days,” quipped Darren, who spent six years at St Andrew’s, 12 months at The Hawthorns and also had spells with the likes of Cardiff City, Sheffield Wednesday and Oxford United.
“I’ve never sat on a road bike before and have only given myself seven weeks to prepare, but I’m going to try my best to complete the ride in as quick a time as possible.
“I’ll be putting my body through the mire to complete this challenge, so whoever’s out there, if you can give a few pounds, or even a few pennies, to support me for a really worthwhile charity which helps patients beat this terrible disease, it’ll really be appreciated.
“Just give what you can and I promise to do you proud.”
Darren, who is also supporting Cure Leukaemia by representing Birmingham City in the Club Legends Cup tournament at the Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham, on July 11, says Geoff is his inspiration to complete the L2P challenge.
“Geoff is a real inspiration and somebody to look up to,” said Darren.
“He’s also got Le Tour afterwards, which will take a superhuman effort to complete.
“Geoff was the catalyst for me doing L2P. After beating the disease, he’s been fundraising for other patients for a decade and I hope the money we all raise over the summer will help Cure Leukaemia go from strength to strength and save more lives.
“With two local players – Geoff and Villa’s Stiliyan Petrov – being diagnosed with the disease, football, especially in the Midlands, has united to support Cure Leukaemia.”
Geoff said: “I’m delighted Darren’s signed up for L2P and I have no doubt he’ll be ready for June 18.
“Although we’ll be cycling up to 80 miles a day, we’ll have some great fun and banter along the way while raising urgent funds for a great cause.
“Cure Leukaemia has funded many clinical trials which have become standard of care nationally.
“But we need to fund more research nurses because we can’t meet demand. Too many patients are being turned away and missing out on potentially curative treatments.
“Professor Craddock believes a cure for all blood cancers can be found within the next 30 years, but we can only achieve this by funding more research nurses.”
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How funds raised for Cure Leukaemia help save lives