Four-year-old Austin motivates Horsham dad to take on charity cycling challenges

Steve Foster with his son, Austin
Steve Foster with his son, Austin

A Horsham dad has taken on several cycling challenges for charity since his son was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition shortly after his second birthday.

Steve Foster is set to tackle The HotChillee Dolomites and The HotChillee London to Paris within one month of each other in aid of Harrison’s Fund who are working to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which affects all the muscles in the body, causing them to waste away.

The 43-year-old has been fundraising for the charity over the last three years since his son, Austin, now four, was diagnosed with the disease.

Over this time, he has raised more than £30,000 for the charity.

Steve said: “On the outside Austin looks like your everyday gorgeous little boy, but as like all children with Duchenne he will start to struggle as his muscles deteriorate. We do not want Austin to lose his ability to walk, we want him to lead a normal life and to be able to enjoy life’s opportunities.

“He manages well now, but we are starting to notice he isn’t as strong as his little friends, he can’t run or jump but it doesn’t stop him from making friends and joining in.

“Raising money for crucial research into this horrendous disease was what motivated me to start these cycling challenges.

“We do not have time on our hands as Austin’s muscles will start to fail him over time. It’s almost like a race against time to find a cure or a treatment so this generation of children can be saved from the horrible progression of the disease.”

In 2016, Steve cycled 300 miles from London to Paris, 115 miles as part of the King of the Downs event in the South East of England, the 90 mile Etape du Tour in France and ended his challenges with the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 – all over three consecutive months.

In 2017, Steve undertook the Alpine Challenge and then colleagues from around the world joined him again at the RideLondon.

The HotChillee Dolomites is happening between June 24 and today and sees Steve conquer some of the most iconic Giro d’Italia climbs starting in the stunning Sella Ronda and finishing with a double ascent up the iconic Passo del Stelvio.

This is followed by a 500km cycle from London to Paris in three days on July 26-29.

Steve, who works for The Siemon Company, added: “I am proud to cycle for the charity and will do all I can to support them in their goal to stop Duchenne or find a way to slow the progression down.

“Everyone around me has been so supportive of my challenges, especially The Siemon Company, which not only have donated substantial amounts of money each year, but also my global colleagues who have made donations or joined me on my adventures.”

Harrison’s Fund is named after eleven-year-old Harrison who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The charity is currently funding 12 research projects in the US and the UK.

Steve’s wife, Maxine, has also taken on a number of fundraising challenges for the charity, most recently completing the Brighton Marathon then the London Marathon a week later.

Heather Smith, head of fundraising at Harrison’s Fund said: “Since Austin’s diagnosis, Steve and his wife, Maxine, have been incredible supporters and between them have raised just over £43,000 towards our work.

“It is thanks to people like them that we can continue to push the boundaries into our research and hopefully one day, we will find the cure that these families so desperately need.”

To support Steve visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/steven-foster13