Two young friends from Oldfield RFC in Bath have completed a 55 mile bike ride and raised £1,350 for the Foundation...and they are only 9 years old!
Ollie Ballard read an article about Doddie and his interest was sparked when he learned he was an ex rugby player and someone who was suffering with MND. Ollie then started asking questions about his rugby career and the illness. His family then started watching some clips, reading up about MND and then found out about the foundation. Ollie decided he wanted to do an event to raise some money. Then two weeks later in a weird twist of fate Jill, the Foundation's CEO, appeared at Ollie’s rugby club - Oldfield Old Boys - and after having their photo together the pact was made - Ollie was going to do a bike ride and raise some money for Doddie.
Ollie enlisted his best mate (another Olly - Ball, and also in the same U9 rugby team) and the planning started - how far to go, when to do it, what route. They wanted it to be a difficult challenge, something that they would need to practice for and after a few rides to test their legs the distance kept increasing. The number definitely had to have a 5 in it - as that’s for Doddie. So 25 miles, then 45 km, then 50km, then 55km, 65km, then 50 miles and eventually they agree - 55 miles. 5 for each of them and a close link to Doddie.
Training wasn’t easy - Ollie hasn’t been riding that long, so at first 10 miles was a big ride and it had to be flat! But after a good few weeks of training the confidence built, the legs took the distance and slopes then hills were mastered. But now what about fuelling? Trying to keep themselves hydrated and full of energy was a struggle. In the words of Ollie's Dad, Ralph: "They hit the ‘wall', they had dehydration, they had collapsing and vomitting - the boys learnt lots about what it takes. Determined to do the task and always with the some words about Doddie that they’d read - that he simply focuses on one thing at a time, then they started saying to each other - “well…. what would Doddie do now? - he’d just carry on."
And then there was the sponsorship…… initially they hoped for £350 at a real stretch but within first 3 weeks that had been smashed, it got to £500, then £800 then broke into four figures…. That simply spurred them on more.
They’re completely gob-smacked that £1350 has been given to the Foundation and were so thrilled when they completed the 55m ride.
They learnt about themselves, they’ve learnt about MND, they cemented friendship and been blown away by the family that is rugby.
This adventure will live with them for years.
A huge well done to Ollie and Olly and their family and friends for this wonderful story and amzing support.