THE ‘London 2 Paris: Inspiring the Revolution’ (L2P) cycle challenge this month will be an emotional family affair for Geoff Thomas as he bids to raise £1million for Cure Leukaemia.
The ex-England football international revealed on World Blood Cancer Day (May 28), he will be joined on the 500km ride by his nearest and dearest who rallied round when he was given just three months to live.
Twelve years ago, the Barnt Green-based Thomas household was rocked by the news Geoff, who had hung up his boots 12 months earlier, had been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia, a form of blood cancer.
Wife Julie shielded daughters Madison and Georgia, then aged only ten and seven respectively, from their dad’s survival fight.
Geoff’s sister Kay was able to provide the stem cell donation that, coupled with pioneering treatment, enabled Cure Leukaemia co-founder, Professor Charlie Craddock, to save Geoff’s life.
Now, on the milestone tenth anniversary of the 50-year-old entering remission, the Thomases are once again supporting Geoff.
Julie, Madison, Georgia, Kay and her husband Bryan and Geoff’s cousin Debbie will be among 230 cyclists riding up to 80 miles a day on L2P from June 18 to 22.
Former Wolves and Crystal Palace captain Geoff is proud to have his family’s support in raising funds for Cure Leukaemia, the blood cancer charity of which he is patron and to which he owes his life.
“When you’re going through a battle against blood cancer, it’s a joint effort,” said Geoff, who will be furthering his fund-raising efforts by riding the entire 2015 Tour de France route in July, a day before the professional peloton.
“I was really fortunate. Not everyone has that kind of family support. It’s ever so special.
“Julie was an absolute rock. Maddie and Georgia were very young but when I mention things, they do remember.
“You go through ups and downs together and Julie was probably more focused. She looked after everything else, especially the kids. I was able to just concentrate on my treatment.
“My sister gave me a second chance in life. Kay’s stem cell transplant is still working its magic inside me today.
“We’ll have the full team that were solid behind me on the ride because Professor Craddock, a miracle man, is also doing L2P.”