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Riding for a Cause: The Family Refusing to Let Illness Slow Them Down

By Megan Flottorp

After a 10-year break from riding, Christopher Hall is back in the saddle and is pedalling further, faster, and more passionately than ever before. On July 14th, he’ll be riding over 100 km with a group of other cyclists who are motivated by one very special goal – to help a young boy recover from an illness and reach his dream of becoming a star on the football pitch.

In 2017, Hall’s 6-year-old son, Riley, suffered arterial inflammation and a spontaneous vertebral arterial dissection which caused him to have a stroke, leaving him with significant brain damage. Although Riley now has to deal with a host of complications, including cognitive and learning problems, memory issues, and frequent aches, pains and headaches, his spirit remains strong and he and his family are determined to fight back.

Hall told We Love Cycling that even after doctors told Riley he wouldn’t be able to play football, just weeks after being scouted by a notable local team, the boy vowed to do anything he could to get back on the pitch with his teammates. The Redfearn JFC organization has been like a second family to Riley throughout this ordeal, and it was important to Hall and his wife that the club knew how much their support was appreciated. That desire to give thanks was what got Hall back on his bike after almost a decade.

This jersey signed by Christian Prudhomme, Gary Verity and Thomas Voeckler is part of an auction. You can reach out to Christopher Hall to bid HERE.

Having broken a femur when he was younger, blood clots and leg ulcers have kept Hall away from impact sports like running. Luckily, he has fallen back in love with cycling and the community that comes with it. A support network has quickly formed around Riley’s cause and this Saturday, Hall will be riding with 12 other cyclists from Cayton Bay near Scarborough, all the way to Redfearns JFC home base in Barnsley, where Riley learned to play football. The group consists of friends, football coaches, and even the owner of the local cycling shop, Cyclomania Barnsley, who signed a jersey that will be up for auction at the event.

Hall has been overwhelmed by the response so far and although he told us that he is only starting to find his way into the cycling community, he has felt nothing but encouragement every step of the way. “I’ve even had people who I don’t know asking to help me with training after they heard my story, there are some very kind people out there!” he proclaimed gratefully.

The whole family has gotten involved with planning the event. Riley’s older brother Noah has been delivering leaflets and posters, and Hall’s wife has organized a day of fun and games at the football club to welcome the riders back upon completion of their trek.

Hall says he is humbled and inspired by his son’s grit and determination to overcome his illness and get back to doing what he loves. “I’m doing this to show people that even though my son and family have suffered a massive blow, the best thing to do is get up and hit back.” Hall references a motto that he was inspired by several years ago when a friend of his lost a son to cancer at the age of 33: “Do me the honour of living your life like you really mean it.”

Hall is indeed putting these words into action and is inspiring others to do the same. As for Riley, he’s smiling as always and is apparently already competing with his mom during 5km runs in the local park, which he now completes in under 30 minutes. Appreciating the benefit that cycling has had on his health, Hall is excited to get Riley on a bike too. “I can’t wait till he is at a stage where I can get him his first road bike, so he can show me how it’s done!”

It is with open arms that we welcome the Hall family into the cycling community. We wish Christopher the best during his ride this weekend and we can’t wait to see Riley hopping on his bike to get back on the pitch.

You can support the Hall family and follow their story HERE.