Bikers grant final wish of brave teen Alex
DAD Robin Hood has begun the pilgrimage around the world with his daughter's ashes to fulfil her last wish.
A team of Harley Davidson bikers has left Waterford on a global journey to honour Alex Hood, who died after losing her battle with epidermolysis bullosa (EB).
Alex, who was just 19 when she died, told her dad Robin that it was her greatest wish to travel the world.
Now Robin, who is head of corporate fundraising at Debra Ireland, the support organisation for EB sufferers, has officially launched the epic journey.
The bikers left Waterford on Saturday before stopping off at Farmleigh House.
Robin keeps some of Alex's ashes in a peppermint tin so that his daughter is always with him -- most of her ashes were scattered in a loch near where she lived in Scotland.
Alex was diagnosed with cancer on the morning of her 19th birthday and doctors desperately attempted to remove the tumour. But it was not enough.
The condition that Alex suffered from caused the skin layers and internal body linings to blister and wound at the slightest touch.
More than 80 motorcyclists will make the symbolic journey, carrying Alex's ashes from her grandmother's birthplace in Waterford to France and on from there.
"It's been such an outstanding success -- the response we got was unbelievable," Robin told the Herald.
"We didn't think we would get many people to the reception, but there is going to be 800 people there."
Harley riders will meet up with the Irish contingent and pass her ashes onwards around the world.
"It just seemed right to start in Waterford, where my mother is from," Robin explained.
"The Harleys are going to take the ashes back to Scotland where she will be met by First Minister Alex Salmond and then on to Leamington Spa where Alex died."
And former first wives, Cherie Blair and Sarah Brown, will meet the riders on their journey through England.
"We'll try to get her ashes around the world through the Harley Davidson fraternity," Robin said.
"As they go to rallies all around the world, and at different rallies, Alex's ashes will change hands."
Robin is determined to keep fundraising for research projects to find a cure for the illness.
"Alex told me, 'Dad, I'm dying, not you. Don't cry. Smile every day for the rest of your life and fundraise until they find a cure'," Robin said.
Earlier this year, one of the oldest sufferers of EB, Cora Doyle passed away. The 40-year-old from Kinnegad in Meath was an outspoken campaigner for Debra Ireland.
Further information about Debra is available on debraireland.org and donations welcome to AIB bank account sort code 93-10-98 a/c 03800009.