Haines set to go coast to coast for Special Needs

| 05/05/2019
CNS Local Life
(L-R) Derek Haines and Mike Burcombe training for their trek in the Pyrenees

(CNS Local Life): Veteran runner and fundraiser Derek Haines, together with hiking partner Mike (Burco) Burcombe, will be setting off early next month on their Coast 2 Coast Pyrenees Challenge, a trek from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea to raise money for Special Needs Foundation Cayman (SNFC). The more than 550-mile route will take the two men along the Pyrenees mountain range which forms the natural border between France and Spain.

The funds raised will support the SNFC initiative in the Cayman Islands to ensure inclusivity in schools and the community for people with special needs. To date, the first goal of $500K in funds and pledges for the next five years of the project has now been achieved, Haines told CNS, adding, “We are now well on our way to the second goal of (reaching) $750K.” The latest target has been boosted by a $100K donation from the Aall Foundation. Haines said the ultimate goal is $1 million.

For the upcoming challenge the two trekkers will be tested across a series of gruelling mountain climbs that total some 157,000 feet of ascent, which is the equivalent of five climbs of Mt Everest, he explained.

At a time when most people would be enjoying retirement, the 70-year-old Haines continues to undertake physically demanding challenges that would overwhelm men half his age, never allowing himself to take his foot off the proverbial gas. “I am very lucky to have kept my health and fitness. I run an average of 40 miles per week so that keeps my weight in check, too,” Haines said. “And I feel that whilst I can help out I should and that also gives me the incentive to keep going.”

While over the years Haines has run marathons to raise more than $3 million for local charities, including $1.4 million to build Jasmine Villa, the new home for Cayman’s hospice, the SNFC has special meaning for him. “My younger brother Roy has been in care for 60 years (he is now 65) because of physical and mental problems,” Haines explained. “When I started running for charitable causes in the early 80s I raised money to assist him and fellow sufferers.

“In recent years treatment and understanding of special needs have greatly improved and I like to think that my brother would have enjoyed a much better quality of life if these improvements had been available in his early years. It is vital that those with special needs in Cayman receive any advantage they possibly can so that they can become part of, and included in, our whole society and not separated from it.”

Ahead of the 1 June departure for Madrid, with the two men starting their trek on the French coast two days later, a going-away party and fundraiser is planned for Thursday, 23 May, starting at 5:30pm, at Abacus in Camana Bay. Tickets, which include a welcome drink and canapes, cost $25 each, with all proceeds going to the Special Needs Foundation.

All travel costs and registration fees for the expedition will be self-funded by Haines and Burcombe and every dollar raised will go directly into supporting the project, with no administration or overhead costs. As with previous charity appeals, Rotary Club of Grand Cayman treasurer Chris Johnson will maintain oversight of the funds raised together with the SNFC committee.

“This is an exciting challenge that will push me to the limits but I am sure that Burco and I are up to it. This represents another huge fundraiser for a fairly small population but the generosity of the Cayman community has shone through year after year and I am very grateful for the continued support,” Haines said.

Even before he completes the Pyrenees trek, though, Haines is already contemplating his next fundraising mission. “Nothing is finalised as yet but there are a couple of options in the pipeline,” he confirmed.

For information on the Coast 2 Coast Challenge and how to donate, go to SNFC website

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Category: Community, Fundraiser

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