SOURCE: The Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation

The Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation

October 03, 2014 09:00 ET

Documentary Begins Filming, as Riders Head to the Starting Line of Grueling 7-Day Bicycle Trek to Benefit Children Fighting HLH

"700 Miles to Hope" Team Reaches Halfway Point of Fundraising Goals for The Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation in Bid to Raise Awareness and Find a Cure for HLH

NATCHEZ, MS--(Marketwired - Oct 3, 2014) - The Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation today announced that its fourth annual 700 Miles to Hope bike ride begins tomorrow, October 4. The Foundation is asking for help to meet its goal of raising $500,000 to support the fight against Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a rare and life-threatening immune system condition that affects mainly children and young adults. Today, the only known cure for HLH is a bone marrow transplant and only half of patients survive the disease.

All proceeds raised during the 700 Miles to Hope journey will be donated directly to the HLH Center of Excellence at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the most experienced medical center in the nation treating HLH. Funds will be used to support the Center's four core priorities of research, education, clinical care and family support. To further the cause, an anonymous donor has pledged to match donations up to $250,000. Additionally, pioneering drug company Novimmune has donated $25,000 toward the ride. The Geneva-based company is currently developing an experimental drug for HLH in conjunction with several U.S. hospitals, including Cincinnati Children's. Novimmune Chief Business Officer Adrian Mills will also join the bike ride.

The 700 Miles to Hope ride spans more than 700 miles and is completed over the course of seven days, beginning in Natchez, MS and ending at the front doors of Cincinnati Children's. What started as just one father riding in memory of his two young sons has grown to a large team of riders, who will each pedal 700 miles for the children they've lost, the children who are currently fighting this horrible disease and for those who may be diagnosed in the future. The strong bond this team has forged will be the basis of a documentary about the ride and their shared experiences of loss and love, and a deep desire to make a difference.

"We're riding our bicycles on behalf of children who can't because they're in the hospital fighting for their lives instead of doing what they should be doing: enjoying life at home and riding their own bikes," said team leader Justin Akin, who lost two young sons, Matthew and Andrew to HLH. "I want every family affected by HLH to know that we're all in this together, and we really can change the outcome -- whether it's for our own children or the children of families to come, who will face this devastating diagnosis."

Here are two ways to get involved during this year's 700 Miles to Hope Ride:

  • Donate to the cause 
  • View and share real-time updates on the ride and daily dedication videos on Facebook and Twitter and show your support by posting pictures of your own children and families riding bikes "along with us," using the hashtag #700MilestoHope

Donations to the 700 Miles to Hope ride can be made through Hero Network Inc., the world's first and largest social helping network, which uses social media and technology to connect those in need with those who can help ("Where the World Comes to Help"). For more information or to make a donation, please visit here or 700MilestoHope.org.

About The Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation
The Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation was founded by Justin and Kristin Akin in honor of their two young sons who lost their lives to a rare immune disorder called Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) -- Andrew in 2009 and Matthew in 2010. Currently the only known cure for HLH is a bone marrow transplant. Between the two of them, Matthew and Andrew underwent four transplants, during which time the Akin family lived in and out of three different hospitals. This horrible disease took two wonderful little boys who will be missed forever. In their memory, the foundation is dedicated to helping families who are currently battling HLH and those who will have to in the future. The foundation's core mission is to support the world-renowned experts at the HLH Center of Excellence at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and their four priorities: Research, Education, Clinical Care and Family Support. For more information, please visit http://www.matthewandandrew.org.

Contact Information

  • Jill Queenan
    For The Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation
    Email Contact
    717-475-8181