Joe’s toughest race to help kids with cancer

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A Derry bike rider is set to tackle the toughest course in the world in a bid to help children with cancer keep up with school lessons.

Joe Barr rode around Ireland in 2009 to raise £100,000 for the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children after his baby son, Ross, was diagnosed with the disease.

That gruelling effort featured in the BBC documentary, ‘No Ordinary Joe’. But the 54-year-old’s next fundraising mission will be the toughest of all and Joe will give every last ounce of strength to complete this mammoth task. The race is 24 hours non stop. Racers must traverse 3000 miles across 12 states and climb over 170,000 vertical feet, and solo racers have a maximum of 12 days to complete the race, with the fastest finishing in just over eight days. Solo racers will ride 250-350 miles a day, balancing speed and the need for sleep.

Seeing his little boy go through two years of hospital visits and chemotherapy altered Joe’s life perspective significantly and gave him the courage to give something back and this year, Joe will raise money for Hopecam, which connects homebound children undergoing treatment for cancer, and bone marrow or organ transplants with their friends at school using laptops, high speed internet connections and web cameras. Since its founding in 2003 by a parent whose child was diagnosed with leukaemia, Hopecam has connected many children in the USA with family, classmates and friends. Thanks to a stroke of fate, because he found himself riding alongside that parent (Len Forkas) in a race, Joe is now close to a position of being able to help children across the north get online connections to their schools.

Hopecam seeks “to bridge the lonely divide between homebound children and their friends at school during this frightening time. Staying connected to school significantly reduces the stress of re–entry when treatment is completed and children resume a normal life”. The US charity will deliver the necessary equipment via two local companies.

Joe told the Journal: “The last piece of the project is getting sponsorship for flights. If we can even connect ten children, then that’s ten more than last year.”

For the full story see the Sunday Journal. To donate or sponsor Joe, simply go to on the internet.