Olympic honour for fundraiser spurred on by tragedy

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AT just 24 Tom Hacker has done more selfless work for charity than some do in a lifetime.

Not only has he walked from John O’Groats to Land’s End, a trek that took him and a friend 28 days, he also completed a solo cycle ride the length of Britain in just under six days.

His twin feats of endurance raised £24,000 in total for cancer charities which he chose in memory of his mother Susan who died when he was 13.

Last year, after his father Steve died, he became doubly determined to do all in his power to help beat cancer, saying he would never stop fundraising as long as cancer researchers were working and needing the money.

Mr Hacker’s charity work has now been publicly recognised after he was chosen to carry the Olympic torch as it passes through Yorkshire.

His motivation stems from his desire to help fund research into beating cancers, he says.

“As long as people sponsor me I will carry on doing these things. I would do them every week but I wouldn’t want to ask people to donate every week, it would be asking a lot.”

Mr Hacker, who lives in Horbury, Wakefield, enjoys extreme endurance events and is not one for running 10 kilometres or a sponsored 10 mile walk.

“Cycling solo involved 1,000 hours of training over 14 months. The ride was really difficult. The weather was unbelievable, with snow on the first day. I also had a disastrous 45mph crash which badly damaged my bike and I hurt nerves in my hand. I was also left suffering from sickness because of concussion. At one point I had cycled 32 hours in the rain.

“I had wanted to complete it in four days but the torrential rain meant I had to slow down during descents. I fell from the bike while descending a hill in the Cairngorms – it was a mistake to go that route. I went off the edge of a little cliff and was knocked out.”

That fall did not put him off, however. He picked himself up and pushed on, raising £12,000 by the final turn of the pedals.

Mr Hacker’s thoughts are now turning to carrying the Olympic torch later this year and his next charity challenge – which might be swimming the English Channel.

“My next big charity event will be in 2014 because of the amount of training it will involve. I want to swim the Channel but I am a terrible swimmer. I plan to start doing triathlons and build up my swimming alongside running and cycling – I am very happy with those two disciplines.”

He will be thinking about his parents every step of the way as he proudly carries the Olympic torch.

“This is 100 per cent about my parents. It is what I think about all the time, especially when I am cycling or running.

“I lost my mum to cancer when I was 13 and my life has never been the same.”

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