Dads ride for Champion Centre cause

00:43, Feb 10 2014
Murray Wilkinson with daughter Lydia, 7
LITTLE STAR: Murray Wilkinson with daughter Lydia, 7, who has Down syndrome. Wilkinson is completing a charity bike ride to raise funds for Christchurch’s Champion Centre.

Two fathers completing a cycling challenge have almost reached their goal to raise $10,000 for the Champion Centre - where services are now in danger due to lack of funding.  

Murray Wilkinson and riding companion riding companion Martin Nichols took the centre's plight in their stride and will cycle 1100 kilometres in a week with the hope of raising $10,000 as part of cycle challenge Kiwi Brevet.

Wilkinson's daughter, Lydia, 7, was born with Down syndrome and two holes in her heart, learned to love the performing arts at the Champion Centre.

Lydia's love of performing began when she was only about a year old and having trouble communicating.

Her parents initially tried sign language, but it was only after she was introduced to music at the centre that she started to form words.

Nichols' daughter Lily also has Down syndrome and is about the same age as Lydia.


"We've always wanted to give something back."

To date the pair have raised $9,850 and have cycled 964km at an average of 13km/hr and expect to arrive in Blenheim about lunch time tomorrow after traversing The Arnaud Range before descending into the Wairau River plain towards Blenheim.

They have been in the saddle for three days, one hour and 42 minutes of riding time.

The Champion Centre supports 150 children born prematurely or with disabilities until they are school age, when they are transitioned into school.

The centre has served almost 2000 children to date.

Centre director Susan Foster-Cohen was firm in saying it would be an "absolute last resort", but aspects of privately-funded services would be first in the firing line.

The centre was on track to post a similar $216,986 deficit this year to what it did in 2013, which would be compounded by some other financial woes.

The Press