Two teenagers cycling the length of New Zealand in honour of Grandad Roy and raising funds for Alzheimer’s NZ.
Dementia is a heart-wrenching disease that effects over 65,000 people in New Zealand. My grannie describes it as the “longest-goodbye”. That’s why I’m cycling the length of New Zealand, retracing a ride my Grandad Roy did when he was 76, and raising funds for Alzheimers NZ in honour of my Grandad.
My name is William Hickford and I’m 17-years-old. I will be starting my ride on 28th December at Cape Reinga, making my way down the North Island and I will be joined by my friend Holly Ffowcs Williams for the South Island leg. Together we are calling ourselves Team Wolly!
My parents tell me that I was born with a special “biking gene” that I inherited from my grandad! I’ve seriously loved biking my entire life, every spare moment I can be found riding the trails in the Christchurch Port Hills. This love has led me to a weekend job at the Christchurch Adventure park as a bike guide.
My Dad laughs when he tells stories of how he would take me on challenging trails when I was only three (trainer wheels on my bike), sheer grit and determination getting me through!
This great determination is something that my grandad possesses as well.
Sadly, at 83, and dementia having taken a grip on his life, he has finally had to hang-up his bike. He has been riding since he was a teenager, been active in New Zealand road cycling and represented our country at the World Masters Games.
When Grandad was 76 he cycled the length of New Zealand with a great group of “golden oldies” who called themselves “Antique Riders” and they raised over $50,000 for St Johns.
Grandad is now in residential care at Windsorcare Special Care Unit. It’s really hard to see him retreating into another world but the one thing he does remember are his stories about riding his bike! I want to retrace this ride in honour of my grandad and raise $10,000 for dementia support and help others cope and understand this disease.
William and I have been friends all our lives. When he asked for support for his ride down the length of New Zealand, I jumped at the opportunity!
I am a passionate triathlete, recently winning the New Zealand Secondary School U19 Duathlon and placed in many triathlon and road cycling events. I have also been involved in many volunteer activities working towards my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, including volunteering for Nurse Maude Hospice Shop.
During this time at Nurse Maude, I became more aware of the heart-breaking effects of dementia on whanāu and friends. This is why I am very happy to support William in his goal to cycle the length of New Zealand and raise funds for Alzheimers NZ. We look forward to your support.
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Dementia has affected our whanāu and we want to help raise awareness about this disease, “the longest goodbye”, and help support those effected and their family and friends.