24 hour Charity Cycle Ride with Former Sunderland Stars

A group of former Black Cats’ stars will be taking part in a virtual 24 hour cycle ride to raise funds for the Fans Museum in Sunderland. The charity is raising funds to take a group of red and white supporters who’ve struggled with their mental health over to Athletic Club De Bilbao and play a match against supporters.

The Black Cats have ties with the Basque club, with a supporters group over there and the charity is also hoping to play an match in Ireland against Sunderland’s Irish Supporters Branch.

Former goalkeeping hero Chris Turner, Argentinian maestro, Julio Arca and former club skipper Lee Cattermole will be joined by TV presenters, representatives of the NHS in Sunderland and regional business leaders-including Leo Pearlman of Fulwell 73-on a sponsored, simulated cycle ride to Bilbao.

The group will ‘cycle’ more than one thousand miles from the Fans Museum at Monkwearmouth to Athletic Club’s ground next weekend on the 19th and 20th April. They’ll do it without even crossing the Wearmouth Bridge.

Enrico Milani – an Ambassador for the Fans Museum and co-founder of the Italian branch of the Sunderland Supporters – will kick start the cycle ride having travelled from Italy especially for the sponsored cycle ride.

“Enrico is an accomplished cyclist and actually rode his bike, eight years ago, from Italy to Sunderland,” said Michael Ganley, Founder of the Fans Museum. “He will be cycling a number of hours next weekend to help ensure the target is reached and helping to ensure the Fans Museum Health Hub is promoted.”

All of the cyclists will take it in stages to rack up the 1125 miles, from Monkwearmouth to Bilbao, and they’ll even be cycling through the night at the Fans Museum. The ride starts at 2pm on Friday, 19 April and concludes at 2pm on Saturday 20 April, prior to Sunderland’s home game against Millwall.

“While the Museum is a great place for footie fans to visit on match days, or even on those days when “The Lads” are not at home, our work is not just about football memorabilia,” Ganley added.

“We’re looking to raise £10,000 to take a group of fans, who’ve all had to deal with their own mental health issues, to play a match against supporters of the cup winners, Athletic Club, in the Basque country, and also to play another future match in Ireland against our Irish Supporters Branch

“All of the money raised will be used to cover the costs of equipment and passports for those who don’t have them, and for travelling and accommodation for both the game in the Basque country and the match in Ireland.”

The opportunity to play in the game at Bilbao will provide a much-needed boost to some of the more than 60 people who regularly attend the Museum’s mental health hub.

Ganley said: “We are very much community-focused and currently, the work of our Mental Health Hub involves supporting young and old who are dealing with, or have had to deal with, their own mental health issues.”

Everyone is welcome to drop in at the Fans Museum to cheer on the cyclists at any time, during the day or through the night. For anyone wishing to sponsor the cycle ride, a Just Giving Page has been set up at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Fans-Hub