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Pastor, son biking to N.C. for malaria awareness

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Harrison United Methodist pastor Tom Hancock, left, and his son Brian Arnold train for a 162-mile bike ride to raise awareness and money for the Imagine No Malaria campaign.

When Harrison resident Tom Hancock takes to his bike on a 162-mile, two-day journey, he’ll be thinking of a 9-year-old Sudanese girl.

The Harrison United Methodist pastor met Lilly while working with a ministry in the south of Sudan. She has malaria.

“She was one of the lucky ones who was able to get treatment, and she is really an inspiration to us,” Hancock said. “If you get malaria you have it for the rest of your life.”

He and his son Brian Arnold are taking to the road beginning the morning of June 8 on a 162-mile bike ride to Lake Junaluska, N.C.

“We both work out and try to stay in shape, but I would call us very much novice riders,” Hancock laughed. “We’ll stop in Murphy probably and then wake up the next day and continue on.”

That divides the riding into two days of 80-mile rides.

The effort is a way to raise awareness and funds for the UMC conference. Last summer, 900 churches at the regional UMC conference aimed to raise $1 million to help treat 100,000 victims of malaria in Africa.

The churches, from East Tennessee, North Georgia, southeast Kentucky and west North Carolina, chose the international Imagine No Malaria Campain as the benefactor. The nonprofit aims to eliminate the deadly disease by 2015.

So far, Hancock estimates they have raised $500,000 through local fundraising events.

“My son and I just decided this is how we can help. Both of us have seen [the effects of malaria] in our work in Sudan,” Hancock said.

The father/son team is asking people to donate to their cause to help the regional UMC reach their goal.

“Really just the smallest of gifts can save a life — that’s a movie ticket, a car wash, some Starbucks that can to go toward a net or treatment for someone,” said Hancock. “Every little bit helps.”

To find out more about the ride or to donate to Imagine No Malaria, visit causes.com/actions/1717866-no-more-malaria-campaign.

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