Our stories Stories Ex-marine takes on an epic challenge to raise funds for hospital who saved his son’s life Mike has always challenged his physical and mental ability. After leaving the military he went on to earn his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and placed first out of 2,000 in a three-day hike through Denmark. As he enters his 40th year, Mike, from North Leeds wanted to take on his biggest challenge yet – to row 3,000 miles solo across the Atlantic Ocean and raise a whopping £70,000 for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Leeds Children’s Hospital through Leeds Cares. The doting father of two was inspired to take on this mammoth fundraising challenge after his son Gabriel was born prematurely and contracted meningitis, spending his first few months of life on the PICU. Mike told us, “Without the amazing staff and facilities at Leeds Children’s Hospital our lives would be very different today. We're the lucky ones, but we met many families along the way that weren't so fortunate.” Mike has dubbed his fundraising challenge, ‘The Atlantic Grappler’ campaign. He is already training hard ahead of setting off on his epic journey in December 2022. The determined dad is ready to the journey’s challenges head on, “I'll battle with sleep deprivation, salt sores and physical extremes inflicted by the race. Left alone with my own thoughts, the expanse of an ocean and the job of getting the boat safely to the other side.” Mike is encouraging people to donate to ‘help him, help others’ with supporters becoming part of a team and receiving exciting benefits and exclusive updates on his journey. Mike has lots of exciting fundraising ideas planned, including a 24-hour rowing challenge to drive people across Yorkshire to support him in his quest to raise tens of thousands to benefit young patients at Leeds Children’s Hospital. Laura Webb, Interim Head of Corporate Partnerships at Leeds Cares said, “I’ve been absolutely blown away by the lengths Mike is willing to go to, risking his life to raise funds for the ward who saved his son’s life! His fundraising efforts will make a huge difference to young patients and their families who are going through a difficult time.” To help cover the operational costs of his journey, Mike is looking for Yorkshire businesses to support him through sponsorship and has already secured support from Castore Sportswear and Goals Soccer Centres. He is offering several bespoke sponsorship packages, including the opportunity to have their logo on his boat and online exposure. If you’re interested in supporting Mike, get in touch at [email protected]. You can also follow Mike’s training progress and journey on his Instagram page @theatlanticgrappler. Visit Mike’s website theatlanticgrappler.com to find out more.