Ballyclare cyclist to ‘Slap the Lough’ in aid of street kids

Stephen Hunter with a photo of Debiyso, one of the street children who will be moving in to the new home in Ethiopia which Stephen is raising money for by cycling 500 miles. INLT 36-703-CON
Stephen Hunter with a photo of Debiyso, one of the street children who will be moving in to the new home in Ethiopia which Stephen is raising money for by cycling 500 miles. INLT 36-703-CON

A Ballyclare man is to take on the challenge of his life in support of a charity ensuring better lives for street kids in Ethiopia.

Instead of ‘lapping the lough’ in a 95-mile cycle with the 2500 other participants, Stephen Hunter will ‘Slap the Lough’, hitting an incredible 500 miles by continuing the endurance test for an extra four days, ending at the Ballyclare Hope365 store.

Thousands of people gathered on Sunday past at The Hill of the O’Neill to begin the cycle of Lough Neagh, organised by a not-for-profit organisation, Upbeat Agency. Aiming to increase bike usage and support other charities in their fundraising events, the Lap the Lough event happens annually, with great popularity each year.

While the other cyclists rest up and recover, Stephen is cycling on, and has already raised more than £2500 which will go directly towards ensuring a better life for street kids in Shashemene, Ethiopia.

The father-of-two has just started cycling recently but gets a lot of support from his wife Zoe and daughter Faye, who are also keen cyclists and often join him on his training sessions.

Stephen said: “I’ve decided to push myself to the limits for those kids who have nothing because comparatively speaking we are millionaires. I have two children of my own and the thought of them having to sleep in a ditch or on the street just makes me shudder. Knowing that the money raised will be providing beds for young children should keep me going.”

Hope365 works to bring young people in Ethiopia off the streets. All money raised through Stephen’s fundraising cycle will go towards the new ‘Streetkids Centre’ in Shashemene.

As a sign of support and to raise awareness of the plight of the street kids, Michael Holmes, chief executive Hope365 and the staff of the Ballyclare shop are having a ‘Street Sleep’ overnight on Wednesday night and Stephen will be leaving from the shop for his fifth and final lap on Thursday morning.

To show your support for Stephen’s ‘Slap the Lough’ achievement pop down to the Ballyclare Hope365 shop to cheer him on as he cycles to reach the finish line on Thursday. You can also visit his fundraising page to donate, https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/stephenhunter.