This October, a joint force of Australian cycling enthusiasts made every pedal stroke count to raise funds and awareness for kids fighting childhood cancer. Now in its fifth annual instalment, this year’s Great Cycle Challenge (GCC) turned out to be even bigger than in the previous years.
The GCC is one of the major fundraising events of the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI), following a simple concept: Set yourself a goal of how many kilometres you want to ride anywhere in Australia throughout October. Riders can even do it on a spin bike at the gym or an exercise bike at home. Along the way, participants ask family, friends and colleagues to sponsor their journey.
This year alone, riders of the Great Cycle Challenge raised a record breaking $3.3 million which will support lifesaving research into the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of childhood cancer to save little lives.
Amongst the 11,141 participants from across the nation was the cycling team of Melbourne based Al Siraat College Team once more. Team Captain Tanya Kubitza and her 10-year old daughter Mariam Moeladawilah have joined every Great Cycle Challenge since its inauguration in 2013. Over the course of the past five years, the dynamic duo have pedalled nearly 3,200km and raised an incredible $24,637 to fight kids’ cancer.
“Over the years, the Challenge has become something like a family tradition”, says Tanya and Mariam adds: “We look forward to it every year and kick start the riding part of the challenge with a cycling holiday. It was fun riding the Tallarook-Mansfield Rail Trail with mom but the best part is, that I ride to help kids like myself get better cancer treatment. I so hope they will find a cure for cancer, so all children can enjoy and live life.”
Tanya continues: “The challenge gives us the unique opportunity to help save little lives and make a difference for these children and their families. Giving the gift of hope for a cure is a truly humbling experience and one that I would not want to miss. There have been children personally affected by cancer riding or others who cycled in honour of a loved one lost to the disease. The eldest participant was 101 year old and clocked an amazing 58km on her peddle bike. It’s an amazing community of people passionate to help. ”
Participating for the first time was Mrs Misbah Aqeel who works in the Administration Team of Al Siraat. “I was enthusiastic to join and dedicate my rides to one of Senior School students who has been diagnosed with leukaemia. Experiencing what an enormous impact cancer and its treatment has on her health and family life, I wanted to show my support to this student and all children fighting cancer just like her. It is incredible how strong these young cancer patients are in the face of such struggles. If we as individuals put in a little extra effort, I believe our support can really go a long way and together, we can kick cancer’s butt”, Mrs Aqeel said.
On board for the first time as well was Mr Mahmud Alam whose children attend Al Siraat. During October, Mr Alam swapped his car with his bicycle to ride from his home to the train station and back. Occasionally, he would take his bike on the train with him and cycle in the city. Mr Alam rode 120 km throughout the month raised $200. His main sponsors were family members and work mates.
When asked about his motivation to participate, Mr Alam stated: “My grandmother passed away from cancer which got me thinking what I could do to help fund more cancer research projects. It was a wonderful experience and I would definitely do it again in 2018.” Mr Alam is hopeful that his participation in this charity event might inspire his children to be active in voluntary and charity works once older.”