Father Takes on Epic Charity Cycle

A Kent father whose teenage son had open-heart surgery at the age of 15 is trying to raise awareness and funds for a charity which screens young people for heart defects.

Rob Sellens' 16 year old son Jack underwent the operation last year after a screening program at Gillingham FC, where he was on a two year scholarship, picked up a problem.

Robs says his recovery has been "nothing short of amazing", largely due to Jack's age and the fact the defect was found early. Five weeks after the surgery he was back in training, and six weeks after that was back on the pitch for the Gills.

The screening at Priestfield and others around the county are organised and paid for by a charity called CRY or Cardiac Risk in the Young.

Figures from CRY suggest 12 young people die suddenly each week in the UK of previously undetected heart problems. The charity screens around 12,000 people aged 14-35 a year.

Rob had told Heart his family were lucky that someone else had raised money for Jack to be screened and now he wants to help others. He is one of 100 riders taking part in a 200 mile, three day charity cycle around all 21 of Kent's football grounds raising money for CRY and Take Heart Mercy Mission which raises funds to send doctors and surgeons to perform life saving operations in Sri Lanka and teach medical staff there.

The Tour De Kent 2013, takes place over the last May bank holiday, with the whole race starting and finishing at Gillingham FC. The first day is 53 miles to Margate, the second finishing adds another 81 miles to Maidstone and the final 66 miles leg takes in Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Dartford, Ebbsflett, Rochester, Lordswood and Chatham.

People who would like to get involved can either cycle 15 miles of the first day's route, the full 50 miles of day one or the full three days visiting the 21 football grounds.

Click here to find out more about Tour De Kent 2013.