International law firm White & Case is organising ‘Cycling for Hope’, a fundraising challenge in support of the Demoucelle Parkinson Charity. The article below appeared in their first newsletter. We are very grateful to Thierry Bosly and everyone at White & Case for this initiative and look forward to following their progress! 

To find out more about the White & Case Cycling for Hope Challenge, please click here.

“Nothing is certain. At one moment you feel the wind on your face, you enjoy life, you feel happy … and then something turns your life completely upside down and there is no balance anymore.”

These are the words of Patrick Demoucelle, a friend of the Firm (White & Case) living in Brussels who in 2005, around the time of his 40th birthday, was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s Disease.

There is today no cure for the condition and while you don’t die of Parkinson’s disease, the mortality rate in patients with Parkinson’s is three times higher than for other people. As he came to terms with an uncertain future, Patrick and his wife Anne-Marie gave up their successful careers to dedicate themselves to fundraising to find a cure for the disease. They continue to do so to give hope to those whose lives are similarly turned ‘upside down’.

Optimism for the future is the inspiration for White & Case Cycling for Hope, an inclusive sporting challenge organized by Thierry Bosly, Global Co-Head of Private Equity and Head of our Belgium and Luxembourg transactional practices.

During 18 days in September, Thierry and invited clients, alumni and guests of the Firm will collectively cycle 1,200 kilometres from Brussels to Provence in the south of France.

Thierry explains that he got the idea for the cycling challenge during the first global lockdown and had originally planned to take a short sabbatical and cycle the route alone.

“When I went back into the office and shared the idea with the other White & Case partners they said ‘we love the idea of the challenge and doing something for the charity, but we would like to do it together. Let’s do it inclusively and let’s do it differently’.”

Different and inclusive means that participants will be invited to ride only one or two of the 18 stages, and each stage is around 70 kilometres so that it will be achievable (and enjoyable) for anyone that is relatively active. Everyone taking part will self-fund their participation, with money raised going to support the Demoucelle Parkinson Charity.

Thierry says that client feedback about the challenge has exceeded expectations. One client involved in the food business, for example, has offered to provide a mobile restaurant on one of the stages, while another is organizing its annual business planning meeting in the Champagne region so 30 members of the team can take part in the cycle challenge.

“After the pandemic, I sense that people want to do things differently. They want to do something that is authentic, that connects them to nature and builds human connections. By bringing together our community in this way – by ‘community’ I mean the members of the White & Case team, our clients, our alumni, our friends – we can do something that is human and united.”

One person who is intending to ride part of one of the stages is Patrick Demoucelle.

“When I told Patrick about what we were planning he said it had given him a new reason to be enthusiastic about living,” said Thierry.  “Hope is so important for all of us.”