One bloke with two bikes raises funds for cancer centre

WHEN Bob Spagnolo heard of a friend’s 12-year-old son’s battle with aggressive throat cancer, he was naturally upset.

But he was even more horrified when many of the boy’s friends would not visit, unsure how to cope with his diagnosis.

So Mr Spagnolo turned to the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre (BRICC) for help, talking to foundation and fundraising director Geoff Millar about the mental health and wellbeing support on offer.

However, when the former IT consultant realised BRICC’s website didn’t contain a lot of the same information, he decided it was Bloke on Bike to the rescue.

Mr Spagnolo, a bicycle courier, will ride from Ballarat to Beechworth, complete a six-hour mountain bike race and ride home again, hopefully raising $5000 to improve the BRICC website.

“I would like to make sure that no one loses a mate due to not being equipped to handle this,” he said.

He is doing the trip unaided, and with his mountain bike and kit strapped to the side of his courier bike, to replicate how cancer patients told him they often feel.

“I asked my friends when they had cancer how it felt and most said ‘while I had friends and family around me, I felt that I had this great challenge to overcome by myself. I felt very lonely’.

“I will not train for the ride, as I don’t believe you train for cancer.”

Mr Spagnolo, who has a back injury that limits the use of his left leg, left Ballarat yesterday and plans to arrive in Beechworth tomorrow night for the Kristy Cup, named after a friend who died from breast cancer.

While it is an informal bike race among Kristy’s friends, all funds raised in the past have gone to breast cancer research. However, this year all the money will go towards the BRICC website.

Mr Millar said Mr Spagnolo’s efforts would make the website much more accessible to patients and carers.

To donate, go to www.bhs.org.au/online-payments, select the donation to find a drop-down list that should default to BRICC. Make sure to put BOB in the comment field so it can be recorded against Bob’s tally or it may be allocated elsewhere.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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