FORTY-THREE year old stroke survivor, Raymond Kelly has set himself the ultimate challenge of cycling 500 miles and climbing seven mountain peaks in just five days - all to raise vital funds for the Stroke Association charity in Northern Ireland.
Raymond, from Dunloy, had his first stroke at the age of 38 which left him with aphasia as well as physical and emotional problems. Since then, he has had further strokes but has slowly improved his speech and regained mobility with the support of the Stroke Association, his wife Denise and their two children.
However, not one to sit back and let his health defeat him and in an effort to give something back to the Stroke Association for their support, Raymond has created the 575 Stroke Challenge.
The ‘575 Stroke Challenge’ aims to raise £10,000 for the Stroke Association in Northern Ireland and Raymond and his two cycling partners, Simon Corrigan and Peter Zagrapan have been training for a number of months. Unfortunately, Raymond suffered another stroke just before Christmas but is thankfully out of hospital and back on his bicycle.
On Wednesday morning Raymond and his cycling pals set off on the journey with an enthusiastic farewell from pupils at St. Joseph’s Primary School.
Good luck messages were sent by the 319 pupils and some of whom accompanied the intrepid trio on a circuit around the GAC pitch. The boys also have the support of Finvoy Tyre Services who will provide back-up.
Raymond comments; “I’ve always been an active person but when I took my first stroke I pretty much lost one year of my life. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t really move and felt very depressed. However, I was determined to get my life back again for the sake of my family and so, with the support of the Stroke Association, my speech has improved and my physical ability has come back. I still can’t read properly, get my words mixed up and get very tired but I’m alive and getting on with things as best I can. I got the help I needed to overcome my stroke and so if I can do something to help other stroke survivors, I will.”
To support Raymond’s challenge, visit www.justgiving.com/575-stroke-challenge or the ‘575strokechallenge’ page on Facebook. Raymond and the guys would also greatly welcome your donations and support along the route so please do come out and cheer them on.