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Czech cyclists to be received by Pope within charity ride

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Olomouc, North Moravia, July 12 (CTK) – A group of Czech pilgrims on bicycles will leave Olomouc for Rome next week in order to attend a papal audience on August 10 that has been initiated and achieved by the parents of a disabled girl as a step to highlight the problems faced by similar families.

Before starting their ride next Wednesday, the cyclists, including well-known surgeon Professor Pavel Pafko, will be blessed by Olomouc Archbishop Jan Graubner, organiser Vlastimil Blatak told CTK on Tuesday.

Blatak, father of the five-year-old severely disabled girl Lucie, succeeded in achieving the papal audience with the help of the Czech embassy in the Vatican.

The unusual pilgrimage has been dubbed “Tour de Franz,” in an allusion to Pope Francis. Its route will be over 1,500 km long.

The group leaving Olomouc will include 10 to 15 people, but some will accompany it in the first phase only. Then the group will shrink but it will grow again while approaching Rome, Blatak said.

The cycling pilgrimage is to highlight the problems the families with severely disabled children have from the points of view of health, welfare and money.

Little Lucie’s parents say they find no support from the Czech authorities or insurers, and they have initiated the pilgrimage to provoke a change to the welfare system.

Lucie was born with a severely damaged brain in an Olomouc hospital in 2010. According to the parents, doctors’ failure is to blame for the girl’s health condition. They brought the case to court, which has been dealing with it.

The group of cyclists will cover the route to Rome divided into 15 sections. On their way, the pilgrims will cross Brno, Ceske Budejovice, Linz, Villach, Venice, Rimini and Perugia.

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