It would be difficult to imagine someone who embodies the values of Pride of Sport more than Chris Graham, winner of last year’s Sporting Challenge Charity Award and a judge for 2016
After being diagnosed with early-onset dementia at just 34, Chris Graham raised more than £43,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK by cycling around North America and Canada.
Four members of his family, including his father, died in their 40s from a rare, inherited form of Alzheimer’s. Chris’s 43-year-old brother also has the disease, and needs specialist round-the-clock care.
So when Chris was given the same devastating diagnosis, he was determined to raise awareness and money for research while he was still physically able.
Knowing he faced the same decline as his brother, he resolved to do everything he could to help others. He took on the challenge of a sponsored 16,000-mile cycle ride around the USA and Canada.
With the Alzheimer’s Society selected as the official charity partner of this year’s Tour de Yorkshire, other cyclists are now following Chris’ example and raising vital funds for those affected by dementia.
Former soldier Chris, who was medically discharged after 23 years in the army, knows any a cure will come too late for him – but that his fundraising could try and protect his three children, who have a 50/50 risk, and to keep other families free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Chris, from Oxfordshire, is a dedicated supporter of Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity. “Although I know what will happen to me in the coming years, I now have direction in life,” he says. “I wanted to do something to fight back against the disease – to do as much as I can while I can. It’s simple for me: you have to hit the enemy directly. So I've taken on a challenge to help support research, and I'm taking part in studies.”
Having won the hearts and minds of the judges – and people across Britain – at 2015’s Pride of Sport awards, Chris agreed to return as a judge the following year. “Being nominated for a Pride of Sport Award made me very proud,” reflects Chris. “Even if I hadn’t made it through to the final round, I’d have been be thrilled to have come so far, representing other people like me living with Alzheimer’s and their families.”