A Putney woman received a helping hand from across the Atlantic when she was reunited with a friend from the USA to cycle from London to Paris in aid of children’s charity Action Medical Research.
Alessandra Boeri, 27, (pictured above right) was joined on the epic cycling challenge by Aline Lopes (left) from Freeport, Florida, after her friend who she hadn’t seen for four years was motivated to cross the Pond to help save and change children’s lives.
“I sent emails about the fundraising for the ride to my friends all over the world and Aline responded, she donated and a few days later she emailed me saying ‘I'm really inspired by this, so much that I'd like to join you - fancy a cycling partner?’” she recalls.
And her friend’s support turned out to be greatly needed after Alessandra, a freelance animator, was hit by a car while riding her bike in London in October 2015.
“Once I was able to move around again, I emailed Aline and told her what happened,” recalls Alessandra. “I actually felt really bad telling her. I almost didn't because I didn't want to scare her, but it helped for me to reinforce all the safety knowledge on cycling in a big city and how cautious to be.
“Even though my accident was a reckless driver and I was wearing all the brights, I still told her how important it is to be aware of every surrounding.”
Alessandra resumed her training at the end of January but said memories of her accident still came back to haunt her.
“Any time traffic got near me, I got shaken up and felt upset easily,” she explains. “I kept seeing the flashback of that car crashing into me every time I was training. It was really tough but it did get better the more I did it.”
So she was delighted that her friend travelled halfway round the world to support her on the 266-mile ride, adding: “I'm really proud of her. I guess that's what friendship is all about, being together through the thick and thin and believing in one another every step of the way.”
Aline says: “Personally, the preparation for the ride was a big challenge. I'm a novice, I had no equipment, much less a proper bike. I started buying the appropriate gear with Ale's close guidance, and a dear friend in the US donated a road bike so I could train and take it with me to England. I started training on the flat roads of Florida in October 2015; there were no hills for me to train on so I knew that would be a bit tricky to overcome. But Ale was a huge support from the beginning, and always believed in me.
“I suffered a bit going up the hills of Northern France, I even had to walk some, but the kind support of not only Ale but the Action Medical Research and Discover Adventure teams and the other amazing cycling buddies we made along the way got me to Paris. I could not have done it without them!”
The pair were among 150 cyclists who took part in Action Medical Research’s 16th annual London to Paris ride from 20-24 July and who are on track to raise £250,000 to help the hundreds of thousands of children in the UK whose lives are devastated by disease and disability.
For more than 60 years Action Medical Research has helped pioneer treatments and ways to prevent disease that have benefited millions of people in the UK and across the world. Research they’ve funded has helped to beat polio in the UK, develop ultrasound in pregnancy, fight meningitis and prevent stillbirths.
Action Medical Research is currently funding research into meningitis, Down syndrome, epilepsy and premature birth, as well as some rare and distressing conditions that severely affect children.
If you’d like to ride for a reason and raise money for Action Medical Research by cycling from London to Paris in 2017, please visit action.org.uk/action-london-paris to find out more and to register.
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To download a high-res image of Aline Lopes (left) and Alessandra Boeri, please click on the link below:
NOTES TO EDITORS:
For more information on Action Medical Research, please contact Ellie Evans, Fundraising Communications Officer, on:
T 01403 327480
Action Medical Research is a leading UK-wide charity saving and changing children’s lives through medical research. For more than 60 years we’ve helped pioneer ways to prevent disease and develop treatments benefiting millions of people. Our research has helped to beat polio in the UK, develop ultrasound, fight meningitis and prevent stillbirths. But we urgently need to develop more new treatments and cures for sick babies and children and we can’t do it without you.
Join our fight for little lives today.
Charity reg. nos 208701 and SC039284.