Last Updated on Friday, 19 November, 2021 at 12:05 pm by Andre Camilleri
Alan Curry is the founder of LifeCycle (Malta) Foundation
In 1999, my wife, Carmen, developed kidney failure and needed to go for dialysis at the renal unit in Malta, which was at St Luke’s Hospital at that time. The care and consideration hospital staff devoted to Carmen’s care was so impressive that I decided to cycle back to my home in Haydon Bridge from Reggio Calabria to raise some money for their support and some awareness among people.
Joined by three other cyclists, we completed a journey of 3,200 kilometres in 19 days. We received an unexpectedly overwhelming response from the general public and sponsors, so we decided this event must not be a one-off stunt. LifeCycle was born – and within that same year the LifeCycle (Malta) Foundation was established.
With the passage of two decades, we have matured. Today we raise awareness and generate support for patients suffering from end-stage renal disease. The funds we raise through our activities go towards research, both locally and internationally, trying to determine causes and cures for renal failure.
Our main area of focus is the Renal Unit Support Health Hub; the R.U.S.H. project, which is the next step in our saga of providing care to renal patients. Renal failure requires a multifaceted approach. Providing renal patience with appropriate psychological support is of top priority, as giving them the tools that help them handle their condition will result in a dramatic increase in the quality of life. Additionally, as phase two, we are targeting aspects that lead to this detrimental disease, which can be avoided by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
The LifeCycle (Malta) Foundation team have travelled to over 50 countries. We have raised over €3,000,000, which suggests that this format has been successful. By organising one of the most gruelling endurance events in Europe, our dedicated team of international cyclists, pit against the elements in a long-distance ride through different countries all over the world. The next LifeCycle Challenge is scheduled for 7-21 March 2022 when we will be attempting to complete another 2,000 km herculean ride from Buenos Aires (Argentina) to Santiago (Chile) in a mere ten-day journey. We will continue choosing glamorous yet challenging locations which not only attract the participants but also intrigue the media and entice sponsors. Nestlé Malta’s Nescafé has been our main title sponsor for the past two years.
Our foundation is always enthusiastic to hear about businesses who would be interested in finding out more about our events and challenges, as we believe that our work comes with many rewards to both the patients and the participants. Corporate financial support amplifies our hard work and causes disproportionate benefits to the patients and their families. Working with us helps to make a tangible difference for vulnerable people.
The LifeWalk challenge, the most recent addition, came about as interest in tagging along with challengers had grown, but the flagship LifeCycle event proved to be too extreme for people who cannot ride bicycles professionally. In the case of LifeWalk, we are in the early stages and are still deciding where we want to take it. However, we would like to repeat Hadrian’s wall challenge next year, possibly in September, since we have been impressed with not only the 85-mile route but the accommodation and the logistics surrounding it. We reckon it has been a huge success and we anticipate to mobilise even more people next year, once the COVID-19 fears calm down.
Out of the circa 1,500 registered charities on the island, we are the only one who take care of renal patients. We train five months for the events and put ourselves through incredible physical and psychological hardship for ten consecutive days in far off locations, away from family and friends. Anyone who thinks it is a holiday should come and join us to try it—because it is anything but. Saying that we remind ourselves throughout the training sessions and the challenge itself that “the worst day on the bike or during an endless-looking walk is still better than the best day on dialysis”.
Alan Curry is the founder of LifeCycle (Malta) Foundation, the only NGO raising money to support renal patients in Malta. The foundation works hand in hand with the Renal Unit medical staff at Mater Dei Hospital and the UM’s kidney disease research team via the University’s Research Trust (RIDT). For further information visit the lifecyclefoundation.com website.