Rodney survives tough cycle for autism charity

Rodney Leiper outside his home club.
Rodney Leiper outside his home club.

Portadown FC fan Rodney Leiper has successfully completed a 400-mile cycle around 24 football grounds, exceeding his fundraising target.

Rodney, from Portadown, had hoped to match a previous fundraising total of £850 for the Acorns for Autism charity, but managed to bring in £1,018.

The aim of the cycle was not just to raise money but to raise awareness of autism.

He said, “I’m sure every Irish League club has at least some supporters whose lives have been touched by autism, and the more we all understand about it, the more understanding and accepting we can be to people and families who just want to feel a part of the community instead of being excluded just because of being different.”

Rodney described the four-day cycle as “tough and challenging”, with each day having different hurdles and difficulties to overcome.

The Portadown FC fan began his journey at Shamrock Park, with day two the longest at 110 miles, and also the busiest, stopping at 10 clubs from Bangor to Ballyclare.

A puncture and thunderstorm didn’t deter him and when he arrived in Ballymena, two Ports supporters who lived locally turned out in heavy rain to greet him and provide refreshments.

Rodney admitted that day three was tough, “Leaving town and getting on the main road, only then did the effects of the past two days and 210 miles already cycled hit me and when trying to pick up speed, the legs just didn’t answer,” he explained.

He was welcomed home to Shamrock Park by Portadown players and supporters, a gesture he really appreciated.

And Rodney has thanked everyone who provided much-needed moral support. “It certainly helped me along each day,” he added.