Inspirational rider stories
Read the amazing stories of committment and dedication from participants in the MACA Ride to Conquer Cancer. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Macquarie riders support Perkins cancer research - David Walker
Brain cancer survivor determined to make a difference - Deni Atkinson
Philanthropic rider tops WA list - Grant Menhennett
Pedalling, persistence and positive thinking - Annie-Marie Marriott
Cancer survivor's ride for research - Ryan Dunham
Dawn rides for coffee and conversation - Dawn Metcalfe
Riding towards a healthier future - Jerome Gallagher
Alia says "just do it" - Alia Jarnicki
Rock riders trek across Australia to take part in ride - Shaun Pearce
Philanthropic rider tops WA list
Fundraising powerhouse Grant Menhennett has completed five MACA Ride to Conquer Cancer and is consistently the top fundraiser in Western Australia.
The Komatsu Major Account Manager has raised over $100,000 for cancer research at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.
“I’m looking forward another MACA Ride to Conquer Cancer and am passionate about its significance in the vital fundraising that benefits the Perkins,” Grant said.
“Since I have become aware of cancer research at the Perkins, I have contributed via fundraising, donating, raising awareness and riding in the 200 kilometre event.”
“It is safe to say I am proud to be the top fundraiser as well as being part of such a wonderful cause.”
Grant said his involvement has inspired other members of his family to become involved with the Ride and it has become his family’s main fundraising focus.
Grant recruited family members to join him in the Ride, including his daughter Cherie and son-in-law Richard.
“My main motivation for fundraising for the Perkins is how cancer touches so many people of all ages and the need for research that makes a real difference to people’s lives,” Grant said.
Grant said he was grateful to the management and staff of Komatsu Australia for their support of the event, as well as his business associates such as long-time friend and fellow rider, Geoff Baker, who introduced Grant to the Ride.
“We all ride as one for this great cause.”
Pedalling, persistence and positive thinking
Anne-Marie Marriott says her 8 year old son’s cancer diagnosis has made her determined to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer and show her boys what can be achieved through willpower.
|Anne-Marie Marriott and sons|
“It is going to be a huge challenge for me to complete a 200km ride, but I know I can do it. I think it is going to help me get through the tough times ahead to have a goal like this. But also to show both my beautiful boys what determination can achieve,” she says.
Anne-Marie had no idea when she registered for the Ride that her son Ollie would be diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma within the year.
After Ollie's diagnosis, Annie-Marie saw an opportunity to show her boys what could be achieved through persistence and positive thinking.
“A girlfriend of mine wanted to do the Ride to Conquer Cancer in honour of her mother who died of bowel cancer twenty years ago, it was her idea to do it so I signed up with her,” Anne-Marie says. “It seemed like a good idea to help people out. Then our own family was rocked when Ollie was diagnosed.”
Anne-Marie said Ollie’s treatment was taxing but the support her family had received made it easier.
“I’m on a team with four girlfriends. We’ve called ourselves Saint A’s Falcon because our sons go to Saint Augustine together and the falcon represents strength.”
Community support has led Anne-Marie to increase her fundraising goal several times as generous donors kept her in the top ten fundraisers for the Ride, having amassed over $6,000 for cancer research.
“Our fundraising has been going well, we’ve been posting it on Facebook and we’ve linked it on Ollie’s webpage under ‘how you can help’.”
“The boys belong to AMAF in Victoria Park (Advanced Martial Arts and Fitness) and the club had a donation tin on the desk and raised $650 for us, and also a parent from the school that the boys go to had a craft auction on Facebook and raised $850 with donated items. Lots of lovely people are helping us out.”
As the ride approaches Anne-Marie says she is picking up her training regime.
“My husband takes me out to Kings Park and makes me ride up hills. I think I’ll be good on the first day, but I’ll be looking forward to the massages.”
Cancer survivor's ride for research
Rider Ryan Dunham is a cancer survivor who recognises the importance of the work being carried out by researchers at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.
|Ryan and Wayne
In 2011 Ryan was told that he had cancer, that tumours had been found in every lymph node in his body, that there was no cure and that it could not be treated with chemotherapy.
The Riverton resident had just returned from a European holiday with his father, Wayne, where he had first noticed a lump in his neck. The 30-year-old had the lump checked and was subsequently diagnosed with grade 3A non-Hodgkin’s follicular lymphoma.
“Even the doctor swore when he told Ryan of his diagnosis; he said it was an old person’s cancer,” Wayne said. “The first few months after the diagnosis, we could not look at each other without breaking down.”
Doctors gave Ryan two options – two more years of life or a research treatment involving radioactive therapy.
“There was no alternative so Ryan had the treatment, which is only available in two places in the world,” Wayne said.
The treatment prescribed out of Fremantle Hospital involved radioactive chemicals being flooded into his body. Three months later, Ryan received the news he was cancer-free.
Mr Dunham says that although the treatment did not cure his cancer, which may return in 5 to 8 years, it taught him that WA is making some remarkable achievements in the areas of medical research.
“I ride because I can,” Ryan said. “I would not be alive today if not for the tremendous work undertaken through cancer research in WA.
“We have a culture associated around sport in which our heroes are our sports people that are applauded by thousands for kicking a goal. Yet the researchers at the Perkins are undertaking research in cancer treatment on a daily basis allowing people like myself the opportunity to live and most of this goes unnoticed.
“When I received the all-clear that I was in remission last year I entered the Ride to Conquer Cancer and this year our team is even bigger, with my father taking up the challenge,” he says. “The key to curing cancer is research.”
Dawn rides for coffee and conversation
Captain of the “Coffee Crew” team, Dawn Metcalfe has been an enthusiastic participant in the Ride to Conquer Cancer since the beginning.
|Inez and Dawn Metcalfe fundraise for the Ride|
“My daughter Natasha encouraged me to do it. I was terrified and none of the six of us in our team were riders but we had the best weekend and managed the 200 kilometres with no problems. We never considered not making it and we raised $25,000,” she says.
Dawn’s enthusiasm prompted friends and family to join the team and 25 members of the Coffee Crew ultimately raised $121,000.
“I love the experience and talking to people as you go along,” Dawn says. “The support along the route is incredible. Several of my team members do other events and they say there is not another event which is so well managed,” she says.
Dawn says she’s so passionate about cancer research that she doesn’t ever want to stop.
“Every time I go to pull back I hear about another friend or family member who’s been diagnosed with cancer. The only way forward is research. So many people on my team are alive today because of their treatment.”
“My uncle died from cancer. My brother-in-law died from melanoma. A friend of my husband’s with melanoma now has brain tumours and is going through a difficult time. Another friend has had leukaemia and breast cancer. One of our team members has had breast cancer twice.”
Dawn says that her two daughters are riding with her, as well as her close friend Inez, who has also been involved since the beginning. Her husband Joe is a huge support.
As for the team’s name? “We’re not a corporate team, we don’t take cycling too seriously, but we do take coffee seriously!” Dawn says. “The Ride brings people together.”
Riding towards a healthier future
Jerome Gallagher took on the challenge of fundraising for the Ride to Conquer Cancer as a way to protect his children from deadly Melanoma, which took the life of their Mum and his wife, Vickey.
|Jerome Gallagher, his late wife Vickey and their children Jamie and Jasmine|
“My reasoning behind doing this epic bike ride is, yes it is too late for my wife to be saved but my kids, who are 9 and 7, have a 50 percent chance of having a genetic disposition to this disease. That is my worst nightmare,” he says. “It’s good to know that my donations are going to fund medical research which will help with earlier diagnosis.”
Vickey Gallagher had a melanoma successfully removed from the back of her shoulder more than 4 years ago and had been having regular medical check-ups of her lymph nodes when a lump was discovered in her groin. When doctors gave her the all clear, the family went on holidays and Jerome changed jobs. However, soon afterwards Vickey coughed up some blood and a 5 centimetre tumour was discovered on her lung as well as spots on her liver and spleen.
“It turned our lives upside down,” Jerome says.
“We tried radiation and chemotherapy but they weren’t successful so we hoped that Vickey might be eligible for a clinical trial.
Vickey tested positive for the B-Raf gene which produces a protein that is overactive in more than half of all melanomas and the focus of a new experimental targeted drug to treat metastatic melanoma tumours. Unfortunately, on her 36th birthday, it was discovered she had 3 tumours on her brain and couldn’t participate in clinical trials. She died just 16 weeks after diagnosis.
“It is such an aggressive and fast a disease it is crazy,” Jerome says. “Since I started fundraising for the Ride to Conquer Cancer I’ve met a number of people who lost their wives to melanoma and had similar stories. Vickey’s Mum had a melanoma and Vickey never sunbaked because she had fair skin. In the 16 years we were together we hardly ever went to the beach and now I’m always worried about our children, Jasmine and Jamie going out in the sun. We need a test to find out if they have a genetic predisposition to melanoma.
“The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research is the body in WA that does all of these clinical trials and does the research in the hope of finding a cure for this horrific form of cancer and many more types,” he says.
Jerome was one of the Ride’s top fundraisers, with donations flowing in after he sent an email request out on Facebook. His initial target was $10,000, but when he managed to reach that target in just 2 weeks, he increased the figure. His favourite training route is along the Kwinana Freeway and along the city foreshore and he says the physical challenge of the Ride is only a small part of what he’s trying to do. “It’s about the cause,” he says.
Alia says “just do it!”
A friend’s shock cancer diagnosis moved the Ride to Conquer Cancer from Alia Jarnicki’s “to do” list to the “doing it” list.
The Millendon resident and keen cyclist was drawn to the Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer after seeing it advertised on television.
“I cycle regularly so the idea of riding 200 kilometres wasn’t a problem for me, but I’m not a fan of fundraising events, so when I saw you needed to raise $2500 to participate I added it as a potential “To Do” event,” she says. The following day Alia received a life changing call from her friend Jackie in Canada, to say she’d been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“I broke into tears. I was prepared to get on a plane right away to go and see her,” she said.
Jackie’s diagnosis spurred on Alia to register for the Ride and she proceeded to raise the $2500 in just 3 weeks.
“It’s difficult asking for money, people are hard hit at the moment but it’s not as difficult as having to go through cancer,” Alia said. “I don’t know of anyone who has not been affected by cancer in some way, a family member, even a pet. My dog was treated for cancer and any animal lover will tell you they act human most of the time.”
Jackie was touched to discover she was Alia’s inspiration for undertaking the ride.
“When I received an email from Alia indicating that she was going to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer … I was honoured that she would do that out of the kindness of her heart to help find a cure,” Jackie said.
Alia has joined forces with ten colleagues to form “Team Chevron,” with the collective goal of raising $34,200 for cancer research. “I’m on a team with some other people from Chevron and they’re selling entertainment books and doing what they can to raise money towards cancer research,” she says.
Alia urged riders to keep a positive attitude while developing their stamina. “It’s all in the mind, your body can definitely achieve it. One guy at work had been cycling 20kms and came in one day to say he’d upped it to 40kms no problem, the barriers are psychological.”
Rock Riders trek across Australia to take part in ride
|The Rock Riders NT had never experienced hills, or traffic lights.|
A team of 8 people from the small town of Yulara made an astounding 2,000km journey from the Northern Territory to take part in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in Perth.
Rock Riders NT team captain, Shaun Pearce, said he heard of the ride while holidaying in Sydney and immediately thought about a mate who’d been diagnosed with cancer.
”I decided I wanted to do something to help him,” Shaun said.
The residents of Yulara got behind Shaun and his team to help them raise an impressive $40,815.50 for cancer research.
“It was an awesome effort for such a small town. We held fundraising markets and barbeques and car washes to raise money. Artists and jewelry makers who stayed at the resort in town donated their art for raffles. Helicopter pilots donated flights and guided tours; basically all of our business partners helped us fundraise,” Shaun said.
The team trained by riding around the base of Uluru and back and forth down the only highway in Yulara.
“The training here versus the real ride in Perth was chalk and cheese. Leading up to the event the weather was mid to low 40s and where we come from it is just flat red sand and no hills. Day 2 of the actual ride, coming back through Fremantle, there were hills and traffic lights. We don’t have any traffic lights where we ride so that was very new to us,” Shaun said
In addition to their outstanding fundraising effort, every member of the Rock Riders NT team had to organise their own flights to Perth which involved a number of stops across the country.
Despite the challenging voyage, Shaun said the experience was great and the team was impressed by how well they pulled through.
“Our recovery was awesome; we were back on the bike the following week and one member of our team signed up to do the ride again straight away!”