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posted: 8/10/2012 1:53 PM

63-year-old Brit cycles 2,500 miles to Mt. Prospect hospice

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  • 63-year-old Jim Windass started his journey at Loving Heart Hospice in Los Angeles and will end Aug. 27 at Rainbow Hospice in Mount Prospect.

      63-year-old Jim Windass started his journey at Loving Heart Hospice in Los Angeles and will end Aug. 27 at Rainbow Hospice in Mount Prospect.
    Courtesy of Steve Windass

  • Jim Windass is close to the California-Arizona state line at this point.

      Jim Windass is close to the California-Arizona state line at this point.
    Courtesy of Steve Windass

 
By Marie Denecke
mdenecke@dailyherald.com

It sounds like something someone would do in order to get into the Guinness Book of World Records: 63-year-old Jim Windass from Kingston-upon-Hull, England, is currently cycling Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago, battling some 2,500 miles, crossing the Rocky Mountains, enduring heat and exhaustion.

However, Windass is not after some sort of record. He is cycling Route 66 with a specific goal in mind: Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care in Mount Prospect. You can follow his journey day by day or make donations for his cause on his project's website, www.cycle66.co.uk.

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The Hospice did not know about this until a couple of months ago, said Public Relations Manager Jeff Okazaki. "It came completely out of the blue. We simply received an email from him, asking if we could be his end point!"

The reason why Windass chose a hospice to be the finish point of his undertaking is also the reason he started out on this journey: His late wife, Christine, passed away from cancer in July 2010.

She was cared for by Dove House Hospice in their hometown of Hull, which is the hospice that Windass is now raising money for.

Windass's aim is to raise 10,000 pounds ($15,000), as British hospices depend largely on charitable donations. He chose this legendary road because he and his late wife always had an affinity for America.

But why finish in Mount Prospect? That, he admitted in an email, was a little bit of a coincidence: Windass was looking for a hospice close to Route 66 and its finish point.

However, he feels "lucky with the choice of hospices," wrote Windass. Although the majority of miles is still ahead of him, he is already looking forward to arriving at Rainbow Hospice and meeting the staff "after talking to them in the buildup to this challenge and reading their messages of support."

Windass, a regular cyclist, is riding by himself, but is followed by a backup team in an RV, consisting of his son, Andy, a professional physiotherapist, and a friend.

At home he is supported by his other son, Steve, and Steve's partner, Catherine, who take care of Windass's website and the donations.

Being from England, where, "at this time of year, it rains a lot," wrote Windass, he did not expect the climate he is currently encountering crossing Arizona.

"But what I have to go through is nothing compared to what Christine went through; 18 years of cancer, never complaining once," Windass wrote in his email.

His schedule is tight: The Rainbow Hospice is expecting Windass to arrive on Aug. 27, where he will get quite a reception.

"We will have a finish line for him and an exchange of cultures with things brought over from England," said Okazaki. The staff will be preparing a party, the British Consulate General being one of the guests.

But that is not the only surprise for the Windass. "We will probably have deep-dish pizza waiting for him," Okazaki added.

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