Every October thousands of Australians get on their bikes with one simple mission – to make sure that parents never need fear watching their child die from cancer because research will find treatments and cures.
Great Cycle Challenge participants choose how many kilometres they want to ride then ask their friends to sponsor them. They design their own challenge, inside or outside, alone or in groups – but all with the same mission: to fight kids’ cancer.
Since the Great Cycle Challenge started in 2013, over 79,000 riders have raised more than $27 million for the cancer research done in the Westmead labs of Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) to help kids like Jess, who has been one of the faces of the ride since she was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Mum Joanne said there were times she thought they were going to lose her.
“I had times where I it felt like I was watching my daughter die, right in front of me, and all I could do was just fight for her. I remember this one night, the doctors were jumping all around her, it was touch-and-go. It was so serious we were just taking things hour-by-hour.
“She ended up in ICU, and they told me it wasn’t looking good. I just cried and cried. But she pulled through – like she always did.
“She’s always been such a fighter. That’s what kept me going, she’s such a fighter.’’
After two years of having countless rounds of lumbar puncture chemotherapy, constant blood transfusions, bone marrow biopsies and even a dose of pneumonia which left her in intensive care – Jess rang the bell to symbolise the end of treatment in May this year.
The hopes of mothers like Joanne rest in the hands of scientists like those at Children’s Medical Research Institute. Scientists like Associate Professor Tony Cesare who is on the cutting-edge of cancer research. He was recently awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council Future Fellowship for his work investigating DNA damage.
As CMRI’s scientists are not guaranteed any government funding, Associate Professor Cesare said they rely on the generosity of the Australian public through fundraising campaigns like the Great Cycle Challenge.
“This year has been difficult for everyone, including our researchers who haven’t been able to work in the labs the same as we normally would, but our research hasn’t stopped because cancer doesn’t stop.
“What motivates us is knowing that every day a new child is diagnosed with cancer and every day a parent is holding out hope that just one innovation or one discovery may be the difference between whether a child survives or not.’’
You could be the reason that vital discovery is made. The Great Cycle Challenge can be done anywhere, anytime throughout October! You can hit the road or do it inside on a fixed bike. You choose how many kilometres you aim to ride and how much money you’d like to raise – then just ask your friends to sponsor you, and when they hear Jess’s story, how can they say no?
Learn more and register here.