Joel’s epic effort for life-long pal

Joel McDermott
Joel McDermott

A MAN has cycled more than 250 miles to Scarborough from his home in London in an exhausting fundraising effort for his life-long friend.

Joel McDermott took on the challenge to help 28-year-old pal Sam Rhodes, of Northstead, who requires a back operation having endured severe chronic pain for more than two years as a result of degenerative disc disease.

After various NHS Trusts declined to operate, Sam found a private spinal specialist who agreed to operate and oversee his rehabilitation at a cost of £20,000, leading Sam and his friends to form the Save Sam’s Spine group and set out to raise the money.

Joel set off from his house in Crystal Palace, London, and arrived at Sam’s house in Scarborough two days later with a back-up team of two friends, ensuring his safety and progress.

He said: “Anyone lucky enough in this life to have real and meaningful friendships do know that every collective experience shared builds an unbreakable and profound bond. Mine was pulling me blood, sweat and tears back up north to him.”

As his symptoms continued to get worse, with new problems arising as a result of his medication, Sam asked for another referral to a spinal unit, and has now been told that the NHS will perform the complex operation in an attempt to halt the on-going deterioration.

But his friends have declined his offer to give them their money back should the operation be done on the NHS, with them instead saying that they want it to go towards any costs of aftercare and other expenses.

Joel’s three-day journey took him from London to Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, on day one, from Huntingdon to Lincoln on day two, and from Lincoln to Scarborough on the final day.

“My focus at that point had to me my own endurance hero – Mr Sammy Rhodes himself – 26 months in agony compared to one day,” he said.