Homecoming with a Purpose: Sharp’s bike fundraiser in son’s memory

Six years after losing his son to leukemia, Peter Sharp is returning to his native land of England in May to do a fundraiser that will take him from “Land’s End to John O’Groat’s.”

Sharp is owner and innkeeper at the four-diamond Fairview Inn in Jackson. His 14-day, 1,000-mile bike ride will be from the tip of England to the tip of Scotland, to raise money for the Simon Sharp Eagle Fund, starting May 26.

“Originally born in England, I thought this would be a great way to raise money for the Boy Scouts of America, Andrew Jackson Council, and the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital Cancer Clinic — two organizations that meant so much to Simon,” said Sharp. “At age 55, it also is a ‘bucket list’ accomplishment.”

Simon Sharp was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006 after falling ill at Boy Scout camp in Florida. Right after camp, the Sharps were moving from the Orlando area to Mississippi, where two days later they would close on their purchase of the inn. Two days after that, Simon was diagnosed with leukemia and wound up at Children’s Hospital.

He had already started his Eagle Scout project, raising thousands of dollars for a Veterans’ memorial in Celebration, Fla., where he grew up. He continued working on the project with assistance from fellow scouts, ultimately raising $80,000.

In November 2007, he was awarded his Eagle Scout, and died the next day at age 15, after a 15-month battle with the disease. The day after his first yahrzeit, the memorial was dedicated in Florida. A plaque in his memory was also dedicated at the site, and the project received the James B. West Award from the Boy Scouts of America, which honors outstanding Eagle projects.

Sharp and his wife, Tamar, who are both active at Beth Israel in Jackson, started the Simon Sharp Eagle Fund to honor their son, and thus far have raised over $80,000 for the two charities. Sharp’s goal for the bike ride is $30,000, which will go completely to the charities as they are funding the trip expenses themselves. Simon’s twin sister, Sophie, is a junior at Tulane.

Corporate and individual donations that “will help make differences in so many lives of young adults in Mississippi” are welcome and can be made on the website where Sharp is chronicling his preparations, or by contacting the inn. As of mid-April, he had over $10,000 in commitments.

“There are many facets to successfully completing an endeavor such as this”, said Sharp. “Equipment, clothing, training, nutrition, safety, logistics, finances and pure determination to name a few.”

He added, “You have a deep sense of commitment to those who have pledged money to the charities to make sure you succeed in the endeavor and for your own personal pride. As an Innkeeper working long hours to please all our guests, it is a true test of organization and endurance.”

The fund has also hosted “Chefs and the City” fundraisers featuring Jackson’s top chefs, and a five-kilometer Simon’s Walk.