The Great Cycle Challenge may be a big test of strength, endurance and resilience for your average bike rider like Tanja Kubitza and her daughter Mariam Moeladawilah – but it’s nothing like the challenge that kids with cancer face every day of their little lives.

Every October, tens of thousands of Australians take to their bikes to raise money for the ground-breaking cancer research being done in the labs at Children’s Medical Research Institute in Sydney.

In the eight years since the challenge started, the riders have raised more than $25million for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and ultimately finding a cure for childhood cancers.

Tanja Kubitza, Mill Park (VIC) has been an active advocate for the Challenge since the inaugural event in 2013.

Two years later, in 2015, Tanja’s daughter Mariam started riding with her. The passionate mother-daughter duo has been trying to train as much as they can during Victoria’s extended lockdown.

As official Ambassadors for the challenge, Tanja and Mariam have raised more than $36,000 for kids fighting cancer.

This year, the challenge has hit very close to home for 13-year-old Mariam:

“In July, I lost a friend to cancer so I know pretty well what the Great Cycle Challenge is all about. Losing a friend this way still came as a shock and has had a big emotional impact on me. No doubt 2020 has been tough and challenging for any one of us, and it’s even more so for kids fighting for their lives or those caring for them. This year, I am dedicating my rides to his memory, so the challenge has been much more personal.  And we have been keeping our rides within the 5km radius during restrictions.”

Ms Kubitza said that it was important that her daughter understood both the charitable element to the ride as well as the impact a young person like Mariam can have to not only raise awareness for young cancer patients but also to better the lives of others.

“Mariam is very aware that kids should be living life, not fighting for it, and I think it’s particularly important at the moment for us all to realise, yes lockdown is hard, but fighting cancer is harder.”

“As long as cancer is still the largest single killer of children from disease in Australia, we will continue to be part of this annual fundraiser and the wonderful community of cyclists brought together by the challenge to support and ultimately help save little lives,’’ Ms Kubitza said.

Children’s Medical Research Institute’s scientist Dr Tony Cesare studies the causes of cancer from the time that our cells are forming. His lab, and many others at CMRI, are trying to stop cancer in its tracks from the very beginning of life.

He thanked all those who have taken part in the Great Cycle Challenge from its inception to today.

“I am enormously thankful for the community fundraising efforts in Australia,’’ Dr Cesare said.

“Every advance in cancer treatment started as a new research project which required funding to make the discoveries that unlocked a medical breakthrough.

“Community efforts, like the Great Cycle Challenge, have provided my laboratory with essential funding for new cutting-edge projects. Without community funding, I worry the well of new ideas can run dry and sacrifice the potential of improved treatments for our older selves and our children. The positive impact of community efforts inspires our work and gives hope to cancer patients.’’

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 want to aim to ride and how much money you’d like to raise – then you just ask your family and friends to sponsor you.

To support Tanja and Mariam, please visit https://greatcyclechallenge.com.au/Riders/TanyaKubitza

Donations can be made online until late November 2020.