A cancer survivor who is a hospitality industry veteran is set to embark on his one week journey - ‘Cycle Against Cancer’ - in effort to raise funds for cancer treatment and research in the UAE. Guido De Wilde, former chief operating officer at Marriott International, will be cycling 1,200km across Belgium, France, Switzerland and Italy from May 2 to 8.
All proceeds raised from this initiative will be donated to UAE-based Al Jalila Foundation. The foundation establishing its first comprehensive cancer charity hospital in the country. The Hamdan Bin Rashid Cancer Charity Hospital will be providing cancer care services for people who can’t afford quality healthcare. The services include prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of various kinds of cancer. The foundation has also recently opened the Majlis Al Amal, a community centre for cancer patients.
The launch of the initiative follows cancer battle of De Wilde when he was diagnosed with stage four bowl cancer in 2019.
The self-funded, one week long journey takes place next month, where Wilde will be going from Belgian Waterloo to the Lombardian city Bergamo. The scenic but challenging route will be covering historical sites and places of interest like town of Bastogne in Belgium, Verdun in France, Lucerne in Switzerland and Bergamo in Italy.
De Wilde said: “From the day I was diagnosed with cancer, I had complete trust in the medical team and facilities here in the UAE, which motivated me to start my treatment as soon as possible. A great multi-discipline team of surgeons, radiologist, oncologist, hematologist and gastroenterologist complemented by a caring nursing team took very good care of me. I will be forever grateful.”
He added: “As well as raising money for a worthy cause, ‘Cycle Against Cancer’ sends a message of hope to other cancer patients and survivors that there is a healthy life after cancer. I hope it inspires others to get over the initial shock of the diagnosis and stay positive with an ‘I will get over this’ attitude. For me, cycling allows me to stay healthy whilst also relieving stress at the same time. It played a big part in my recovery.”
Cycling was always a big part of De Wilde’s life, even before being diagnosed with cancer. In 2008 he co-founded the ‘Road to Awareness’ charity campaign during his time with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which he then continued during his Marriott International tenure. The baseline campaign activity was always a cycle challenge and since initiative inception, De Wilde and colleagues have together cycled more than 6,000km over 13 editions and have raised over $10 million (around Dh36.7 million) for UNICEF and other charities in the region.
Commending De Wilde for his spirit, Dr Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, said: “Guido has been a friend and ambassador of Al Jalila Foundation for a long time and under his leadership Marriott UAE raised millions to support our programmes. Guido is a cancer survivor and knows first-hand how a cancer diagnosis can change your life in an instant. We are delighted to be the chosen charity partner for Guido’s ‘Cycle Against Cancer’ fundraising challenge.”
He added: “With the increasing number of cancer cases annually in the UAE, Al Jalila Foundation aims to provide relief in the way of medical assistance to patients in need. Through the establishment of the Hamdan Bin Rashid Cancer Charity Hospital our vision is to redefine cancer care to transform the lives. It is through the support of partners and community members like Guido that we can make this dream a reality.”
Cancer survivor to cycle 1,200km in support of UAE foundation | Health – Gulf News