By Alice Young
A charity fundraiser, working in Leeds, will cycle across America to raise £20,000 to support people with Multiple Sclerosis and people with mental health issues.
Antony Butcher, assistant education service manager at University of Leeds, will be taking three months off to embark on the journey.
The challenge, which Antony will be undertaking from May next year, will cover nearly 3500 miles across America between New York and San Francisco.
The route was inspired by a depressive episode he experienced in San Francisco in 2017.
He said: “At the time, I thought – I’m going to get through this – that’s why I’m cycling back to San Francisco, into the prevailing winds – that’s the place where I realised things weren’t going according to plan.”
Antony will be relying on the kindness of strangers to help him along the way.
He said: “I have been mapping friends, friends of friends and family members – marking where they live in America.
“My route links up all the dots of where I can find people to stay with.
“I’ve got over 100 potential contacts but am still looking for people on the west coast of America who might be able to put me up for a night.”
Antony has always had a drive for fundraising, having raised £17,000 for charity in his lifetime.
The motivation behind taking on the challenge is Antony’s mother, who has secondary progressive MS.
Antony is hoping to raise awareness of the condition and also for mental health – sharing his own experiences with schools and youth groups along the way.
He said: “If just a couple of people hear me speaking and get some help because of it, this will have all been worthwhile.
Previous fundraising challenges have included cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, shaving off his hair for charity and taking part in the London Marathon having never run before.
Antony said: “Since the marathon, my training has moved towards cycling – I’m trying to get the mileage in.
“Working a full-time job plus caring for my Mum means I’m not quite doing as much training as I’d like – there is a chance that it is going to be a bit of a shock when I get out there.
“I’ll be spending six days out of seven on a bike saddle!”
You can support Antony on his JustGiving fundraising page.