Love of Friends, Kindness of Strangers

Rev Ian Blacker, Mike Renkin, Judy Turpin, Mike Baker, Rich Clarke, Kyle Williams and George Jacks

Rev Ian Blacker, Mike Renkin, Judy Turpin, Mike Baker, Rich Clarke, Kyle Williams and George Jacks

Numerous Rotary Clubs, including Lamar’s, came to the aid recently of four young men from Great Britain, bicycling across the country, raising awareness and funds for cancer sufferers in honor of a friend who succumbed to the disease four years ago.

Through Rotary contacts in England, Judy Turpin of the Lamar Rotary became aware of the group’s efforts on behalf of their friend, Joel Lawrence of Ludlow, England who died from stomach cancer at the age of 19.  Their cross country journey from San Francisco to New York brought them through Lamar, en route to Kansas stop points.  Realizing the group was working on a limited budget, Turpin made arrangements through the Lamar Rotary group to host them to an overnight BBQ and to spend a free evening, sleeping at the First Christian Church before resuming their fund-raising trek across America.

The organization, known as Joel’s Wish, helps raise funds.  It was Joel’s dying wish for funds to be raised for young cancer sufferers and the Severn Hospice in Shrewsbury, whose Hospice at Home looked after him during his final days and provided his main support. Joel’s Wish (a charity registered in 2014) helps with grants for travel and accommodation which can be found nowhere else within the UK. Joel’s friends and family have been involved in numerous fundraising events over the past five years raising nearly £60,000. Joel’s friend, Kyle Williams has already cycled to the South of France and Joel’s parents have run marathons in memory of their son to raise funds and awareness.

The four young men, all under 30 years of age, were friends of Joel Lawrence, and have taken time away from their livelihood to work on behalf of their companion’s final dream. Kyle Williams is the only cyclist and has been riding in Europe and America, and without any great experience beforehand, “This is just the one thing I can do for him. We’re enjoying the trip and have had an amazing experience in this country, but sometimes the wide open spaces we’ve seen in the west can be a little daunting,” he explained. The support team members are Rich Clarke and George Jacks, two firefighters from Ludlow, England and a carpenter, Mike Baker.

It’s a bare bones operation, working out of one van with one bicycle. The night in Lamar was spent in their sleeping bags on the floor of the church’s social room. Part of the morning activities consisted of finding a Laundromat, having some breakfast and making arrangements for their next leg of their journey, into Syracuse, KS. Fortunately, Turpin had contacts in that area and made arrangements for food and lodging for the next leg of their journey.

Williams explained they will range between 45 to 90 miles a day on the trip and plan to arrive in Times Square in New York City on June 6, to be filmed by media crews, both from the U.S. and the BBC from London. Because of the logistics involved in their travels, they’ll drive back to the west coast in only four days, before taking a flight on the next country for their fund-raising trip.   A daily blog and trip updates are available on

By Russ Baldwin

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