FAMILY and friends got on their bikes to raise cash in memory of a young Knottingley man who died from a rare form of cancer.
Ben Waller died last September, aged 23, after being struck down with a rare and aggressive cancer – Burkitt’s lymphoma.
The former Knottingley High School and Pontefract NEW College student was diagnosed with disease – which only affects around 200 people a year in the UK – just six weeks before his death.
Ben’s brave dad, Tony Waller, 50, decided to plan annual fundraising events to keep Ben’s memory alive and raise money for the Lymphoma Research Trust – a charity that researches Burkitt’s lymphoma.
The first big event, Bike4Ben, took place on April 17 and saw 86 fundraisers take part in a 25-mile round cycle from Darrington Hotel. Once all the sponsorship money is collected, it is expected the event will have raised more than £6,000.
Mr Waller, of Downland Crescent, said: “It is important that Burkitt’s lymphoma is thoroughly researched as little is known about the cause of the disease and it can turn a previously healthy person very unwell in just a matter of weeks. We intend to raise money in memory of Ben for this purpose.
“Ben lived his life to the full and made us all very happy. He was much loved and is greatly missed by everyone who knew him.
“Ben achieved a lot in a short life, including graduating in interactive media and running his own website design and printing business, Createable Solutions.
“Me and Ben had just finished working on a house and he had just moved in with his girlfriend. I never expected that I’d outlive my son. It was a terrible shock, it still is.
“I knew I was going to do something in memory of Ben so I started looking for a charity. When we collected at Ben’s funeral we just did it under the general Cancer Research charity but I wanted to give money to research this cancer specifically.”
Mr Waller said people were jumping at the chance to get involved in Bike4Ben and he is now hoping to have a fundraising activity in April each year, close to Ben’s birthday, and in September each year, close to the date he died.
He added: “Ben had a fantastic circle of friends and they miss him a lot. There were so many people willing to get involved in the Bike4Ben and lots of people sponsored as well. I want all the fundraising to be a celebration, not a sad thing. It get’s people talking about Ben and remembering him.”
A race night and raffle at The Eagle pub in Castleford in the run up to the Bike4Ben event contributed £450 to the fundraising total.
Go to www.justgiving.com/tony-waller or email Mr Waller at email@example.com to make a donation, or for more information on fundraising events in memory of Ben.