The fantastic fund-raising legacy of a Hoghton man has been given a boost by three friends who combined their love of cycling and football to take on a gruelling sponsored challenge.
Leon Callon set up #TeamCallon after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2016, to raise money for the GIST Support Charity (gastro intestinal stomal tumours), and St Catherine’s Hospice.
Many of his family and friends have raised funds in his honour since then, and the latest challenge saw Ben Woods, Andy Threlfall and Johnny Fowler cycle 136 miles to raise £870 for the Lostock Hall hospice – spending 16 hours in the saddle.
Ben said: “Leon and I have been friends since we were teenagers and so when he received the terminal diagnosis it was devastating for all of us.
“But in usual Leon style, he refused to go quietly and so #TeamCallon was born.
“At the time, Andy, Johnny and I decided to cycle 125 miles along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal over two days.
Leon joined us on the first day so although the challenge was tough, we knew that whatever we were going through, it was worse for him and he was still turning those pedals.
“This year, we decided to up the ante and attempt a similar distance but in a single day.
“When we planned the journey we wanted to include a football twist, as it was such a huge part of Leon’s life, so we arranged to set off from Accrington Stanley’s stadium and cycle along the canal to Anfield in Liverpool and then return in the same day.
“When we realised it was 136 miles, we knew it would be hard, but Leon’s greatest wish was to leave a legacy and by raising money as part of #TeamCallon we would be doing just that.
“The total pot stands at almost £60,000 so it is definitely achieving what Leon would’ve wanted, and we knew we couldn’t fail in our efforts.”
The trio were also boosted by the appearance of Leon’s mum and dad when they arrived in Liverpool.
The trio finally arrived back at Accrington Stanley at 8pm to a big crowd of supporters and they toasted 16 hours in the saddle with a well-deserved beer.#
Leon was initially referred to St Catherine’s to one of the hospice’s speciality doctors in 2017, and later started seeing the charity’s community Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) team, who visit people in their own homes and helped Leon put plans in place for his care at the end of his life.
He died in the hospice’s inpatient unit in March, aged just 36.