WHEN it comes to gruelling charity missions, Ryk Downes can rightly lay claim to being the granddaddy of them all!
The fearless fundraiser and Leeds city councillor has just completed the last of four exhausting challenges – including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in five days and completing Sunday’s Yorkshire marathon – all for his little grandson Cory.
Fifty-year-old Ryk – who is a Lib Dem councillor for Otley and Yeadon – even marked his milestone birthday at the summit of Kilimanjaro on September 26.
He and his wife Bev Downes undertook a series of challenges this year to raise money for the Lily Foundation, a charity which raises awareness of, funds research into and supports families affected by the incurable condition mitochondrial disease. Their 18 month old grandson Cory suffers from the illness.
It all started when the couple finished the Leeds Half Marathon together earlier this year.
Ryk then went solo to run the 69 mile ultra-marathon from Carlisle to Newcastle in June. This was followed by last month’s Kilimanjaro trek. And to round off a fabulous year of fundraising, the couple teamed up again for Sunday’s Yorkshire marathon.
Ryk said: “Climbing Kilimanjaro was an amazing experience. It was physically and mentally very tough but all the support that we have received kept me going.
“The team of guides and porters who helped me get up there were great too – I even got a cake with candles for my birthday on the way back down!”
He said he and his family had been “blown away” with the levels of support they have received so far this year from both YEP readers and local residents.
“Bev and I would like to thank everyone who have backed us so far this year – we’ve now raised over £3000,” he said.
Speaking of last Sunday’s marathon in York, he joked: “After 15 miles my back finally gave out but I was able to team up with another runner having issues and together we made it over the finish line!”
“Looking back over the last year, I am not surprised that my body is a bit battered but it has all been worth it to raise money for such a worthy cause,” he said. “I would like to appeal to everyone reading this to go to our Virgin Giving page and put something in the pot so we can smash our target for the Lily Foundation.”
Visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Downes2014 to donate.