Friends of charity fundraiser Mike Dunn prepare for cycle ride in memory
HE RAISED thousands of pounds for charity and inspired others, despite battling his own illness.
Firefighter and fitness instructor Mike Dunn died on April 24 after a two-year battle with stomach cancer, aged 38.
Now, family, friends and even those who may not have known him so well are preparing to set off on a 210-mile "For Mike" cycle ride from Hessle to London.
They are raising money for the Just Dunn It Foundation, which supports Macmillan Cancer Support and Dove House Hospice – causes which were particularly important to Mike.
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The team of 34 cyclists will leave Hessle tomorrow morning, reaching Peterborough for an overnight stay.
They will then cover the other half of the journey on Saturday, finishing at the Mall in London before a celebration meal.
"We were thinking about doing something really extreme, which Mike would always embrace," says Mike's brother-in-law, Chris Daddy, who regularly cycles long distances.
"But it's about pushing other people who don't cycle as much and inspiring them to do something out of their comfort zone. I'm getting more satisfaction out of it because it's challenging other people and that's the motivation for me.
"Mike was a massive inspiration to me. He touched a lot of people, not just in sport and fitness but in general life."
Mike, who lived in Welton, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2010.
Despite having chemotherapy and major surgery, he was told last year the cancer had spread and he was given months to live.
Mike was known to Mail readers after he saved a dog's life through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation following a house fire in north Hull last year.
He was later shortlisted for a national award from The Dogs' Trust and was also presented with an award by Hull charity Pet Respect for his efforts.
Chris, of North Ferriby, says it is important to remain positive and continue Mike's work following his death.
"It's been difficult," he says.
"But because Mike was so positive, you try to remain positive afterwards and continue his legacy by doing something for charity and looking after each other. It carries on.
"Mike wasn't one to mope around. My sister and Mike's wife, Katie, is now big into her running. She has become competitive and she has taken that from Mike.
"We are all looking forward to tomorrow and I'm looking forward to getting everybody together."
In November last year, Mike and his colleagues grew moustaches to mark Movember, which raises funds and awareness of men's health, and they raised £11,851.
Mike was later chosen as the winner of the charity's Heroes In Uniform: Man Of The Challenge award.
He also earned a Chief Fire Officers' award for his courage in the face of serious illness.
Those taking part in the cycling challenge have been asked to raise at least £200 each.
Richard Moore, 45, who knew Mike for about ten years, says: "When Mike did something, he never did it by halves. Mike was always really positive and never dealt with negative thoughts. He was also very much 'can-do' and was probably the most positive person you could ever come across. He only talked about when he got better and how he was going to beat it. It was only very late on he conceded it was beating him. He was very brave. He wasn't someone to sit down and wait for sympathy."
Richard, of South Cave, says the cycle ride is a challenge Mike would have loved.
"With this challenge, people are riding further than they have ever ridden before," he says.
"Mike would have loved this – a load of people pushing themselves out of their comfort zones."
Katie, 33, is among those taking part in the challenge.
The team will also include Mail photographer Jack Harland, 35, who is cycling for the same charities in memory of his father, Tom, who died in February, aged 66.
Tom, who was one of the region's most celebrated artists, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in February last year. He underwent an 11-hour operation followed by many months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Despite being given a positive prognosis towards the end of last year, he contracted a chest infection at Christmas before further tests revealed the cancer had returned.
Tom then contracted pneumonia, which eventually took his life.
Jack, of North Ferriby, who also knew Mike through friends and work, said: "The thought of doing it in memory of my dad is a big thing because it is a big challenge at just over 100 miles a day.
"I have been training to get fit for it.
"My dad was into cycling, too. This is giving something back."
Visit www.justgiving.com/Richard- Moore66 to sponsor the team.