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Cycle across Jamaica with Mr Motivator

ON YOUR BIKE: Mr Motivator

CYCLING ACROSS Jamaica may seem like a bit of a challenge, even for the most ambitious bikers. From one end of the beautiful island to the other is 236 miles, and to ride across it by bicycle will take five days.

It is a huge feat. But anyone wishing to participate in the challenge next year should be encouraged by the fact that Mr. Motivator will be on hand (well, on bike) for support. Spearheading the Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Jamaican Cycle Challenge, Mr. Motivator is helping to raise money for the charity with a week-long bike ride.

Having found fame in the 1990s as the TV fitness guru on British breakfast show GMTV, the 58-year-old Jamaican, born Derrick Evans is proving that fitness is still a huge part of his life as he prepares to undertake this cycling feat.

Taking place during the summer of 2012 – the year that will mark Jamaica’s 50th year of independence – the annual event will see participants cycling from the Jamaican capital of Kingston in the west of the island, through to Negril on the eastern side.

The event aims to raise funds to provide cancer sufferers with nurses and care in their own homes, and also to provide additional services in the charity’s hospices.

Mr Motivator explains why the charity is close to his heart.

“When it comes to cancer, it can touch all of us,” he says. “A few members of my family have fought cancer. I realise how very fortunate I am. I’ve been blessed with good health but who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow?

“When someone is diagnosed with cancer you can see the fight, the pain, the hurt and the worry. But those who recover have a smile on their face. It proves how strong human nature is.”

The exercise fanatic believes that Marie Curie makes such a difference because they offer extensive help and support in the homes of the patients. He feels that this level of service gives those with cancer a sense of dignity they may not experience in a hospital.

“A good friend of mine died from prostate cancer. Towards the end, he had his good days but most of the time, it was tough for him. Often, when you are on your way out, dignity can make all the difference.

“All of us need to give a helping hand; we have to do more, even if it’s just listening. If you ask someone how they are doing, wait for a reply and care about what they say.”

The event took three years to formulate, but in the summer of 2010, the first annual Jamaican Cycle Challenge took place with participants riding from Robin’s Bay to Negril via Ocho Rios.


THE ROUTE: participants will cycle from Kingston to Negril

“We had a big band send off, policemen cleared the traffic and kept the cars out of the way, which was really re-assuring. We had no mishaps or accidents,” he laughed. “The social side was great; it’s an excellent way to see the island. People of all different denominations took part and we had a wonderful time. There was karaoke, dancing, all kinds of stuff.”

In order to take part in the excursion, budding participants must raise £3250 in donations and pay a £250 registration fee.

“It’s not a lot of money to be raised. Last year, some people paid for their trip out of their own pockets because they just wanted to take a break.

“All of the money goes to a very good cause. Last year, we raised over £100,000, which goes a long way.”

Mr Motivator says the event is for anyone who wishes to see Jamaica, have fun and donate to a worthy charity.

“It’s not a race, it’s a cycle ride, it’s about completing the challenge. It’s a celebration of what people are able to achieve. It’s a good challenge and we do it with the sun on our backs!”

The Jamaican-born star found fame on UK TV not only thanks to his exercise routines, but also thanks to his range of tight and colourful lycra outfits. After nearly 10 years as GMTV’s exercise master, Mr Motivator quit the show in 2000 and moved with his family back to his country of birth.

“Jamaica is a wonderful place. I’ve travelled all of the Caribbean and to me, Jamaica is the most wonderful. I was born there and had a strong desire to get back. I felt that the only way to remain Jamaican was to go back there.”

Residing in the serene hills of St. Ann, Jamaica, the motivational guru has founded H’Evans Scent, a health and adventure retreat, where he employs 22 people.

“Our quality of life is great. I think it’s important not to set yourself up in an ivory tower. We employ local people; not one person had to fill out an application form. We spend a lot of time giving young local guys hope.”

Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Jamaican Cycle Challenge is taking place from September 13-20, 2012. For more info visit mariecurie.org.uk/overseas

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