TWO Glengormley men are gearing up for a wacky charity fundriaser which will see them attempt to drive 3,000 miles across western Europe in a clapped out 16-year-old car.
Myles McKeown and his good friend Mark McKnight - ‘the Blues Brothers with a hint of pink’ - are the only team from Northern Ireland entering this year’s Motoscape Banger Rally - an epic road trip to Venice and back. And they’re doing it in a bid to raise funds for three very worthy causes - Pretty ‘n’ Pink breast cancer charity, NI Hospice and the All Stars Special Olympics Club.
The plucky pair will set off in early September, driving from Glengormley, down through Scotland and England, before crossing the Channel to Saint Omer in France for the official start of the event.
Myles, a 40-year-old father-of-four, lost his wife Emma to cancer three years ago. Since then he and Mark have been fundraising for Pretty ‘n’ Pink, last year completing the nine-mile Belfast Marathon Walk and the previous year the Marathon Relay in aid of the charity.
“This year we just thought we’d do something a bit different - A, because we’re completely unfit, and B, because this will be a bit of fun for us as well as raising money for charity,” Myles explained.
The 3,000-mile round trip will take seven days to complete and will take ‘the Blues Brothers’ on a winding route through 11 different countries. The road trip involving 75 teams isn’t a race, but prizes will be awarded by the organisers for wacky costumes, crazy photos and a series of fun activities along the route.
The pair’s 1997 C-180 Mercedes, with its Blues Brothers cop car paint job and pink interior, has 127,000 miles on the clock and no heating. It may have only cost £350, but it has passed the MOT and they’re hoping German engineering will prove reliable enough to get them to north east Italy and back home again.
During the mammoth drive, Myles and Mark will even make a short pit-stop at the legendary Nurburgring motorsports complex in Germany to test their old banger out on the track.
“I can’t wait,” said Myles, who works as a civil servant. “We don’t go until the beginning of September, but the idea now is to try to get as many businesses as possible to sponsor us in lieu of advertising and publicising them and putting them on Facebook.”
Mark, a 44-year-old consultant engineer, and Myles have already secured their first sponsor - The Side Door restaurant in Glengormley, but they’re appealing for other businesses to back their fundraising effort.
“They’ll not only get the satisfaction of giving money to charity, but we’ll advertise their business on the car and take photos and post them all over Facebook and the Hospice page and the Pretty ‘n’ Pink page, as much publicity as we can give them,” Myles added.
“Mark and I are paying for all of this ourselves so that everything we raise will go to the charities. It’s not cheap to buy a car and insure it and the cost of accommodation and travel and everything else, so we’re hoping to raise at least £5,000.”
Myles and Mark have already had great support from family and friends, and they’re inviting anyone who would like to back them in their fundraising effort to make a donation online at www.justgiving.com/Blues-Brothers-with-a-hint-of-pink
Anyone who would like to find out more about sponsoring Myles and Mark should telephone 07712 456771 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.