Dan Martyr, a father from Worcester, is getting in the saddle for Velo Birmingham & Midlands to support a five-year-old boy whose search for a stem cell donor has touched hearts in the local community and countrywide.
Oscar Saxelby-Lee, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia just after Christmas, is currently undergoing intensive chemotherapy, and the campaign to find him a stem cell donor – entitled Hand in Hand for Oscar – has seen thousands of people queueing at registration events in Worcester and further afield.
Dan’s son Laurie is in the same class as Oscar at Pitmaston Primary School in Worcester, and Dan and his fellow PTA members have been working with the charity DKMS on the donor recruitment drives.
“Oscar’s Mum was one of the first people my wife spoke to when Oscar and Laurie started school in September.
“You see stories about fundraisers and your heart goes out to people but this is very personal to us as we know Oscar.
“Leukaemia is so indiscriminate – it could have been any one of the five-year-olds in the class.
“Once we found out that Oscar was unwell, the PTA wanted to show as much support as possible and began focussing on donor registration and fundraising.
“The response has been incredible – the stem cell swab event at Pitmaston School broke the record for the most people registered at a single UK event.
“There were so many demonstrations of kindness that weekend – from the scores of people who queued in the pouring rain to the help offered by folks who were perhaps too old to register as donors.
“One older gentleman spent the day, in the pouring rain, stewarding the car parking with me and collecting money from passing drivers who were so keen to donate to Oscar’s cause.”
Other registration events have since followed as the search continues to find Oscar a donor.
In addition to helping with the PTA events, Dan was also keen to raise further awareness by taking on his own personal challenge, with Velo fitting the bill.
His fundraising has already received a sizeable boost from Watford’s former England goalkeeper Ben Foster, a regular supporter of Cure Leukaemia who has also taken part in the London to Paris and Ride London events for the charity.
“I was quite taken aback when a donation of £500 pinged into my Just Giving Account, but as I’m not a big football fan I didn’t recognise the name of the contributor!”
“The Wolves fans in the office quickly made me aware who Ben was, and I can’t thank him enough for such a fantastic and generous donation.
“At the beginning, I set a target of £500, but thanks to Ben I have been able to put that target up to £900 and, as time goes on, maybe I can set my sights even higher?!”
Dan admitted that he is pretty new to ‘serious’ cycling.
“I’m giving as much time as possible to training, but at the moment 60 miles has been my max.
“A hundred miles is a big challenge but I don’t think it will be the last one, as I really want to continue raising funds and spreading the message.
“This campaign will help so many people who are in Oscar’s situation. The more we increase awareness the better and the more funds we collect the greater our ability to help Cure Leukaemia fund their nurses and treatment programmes.”
Click here to support Dan in his fundraising for Velo, and everyone at Cure Leukaemia wishes Oscar and his family all the very best as they continue their search for a donor.
- To ride the 42-mile Velo Birmingham & Midlands route for Cure Leukaemia email Velo@cureleukaemia.co.uk.