Rattling along outback roads in a 1930s car to raise funds for cancer research

Travelling over 7000km across the Australian outback in a 1930s A Model Ford. 

It will be a slow going journey for Beechworth Bakery founder Tom O’Toole and his best mate Keith McIntosh who will drive from Byron Bay in New South Wales to Shark Bay in Western Australia at a maximum speed of 60km/h. 

But it’s a challenge for a cause close to their hearts. 

OUTBACK CHALLENGE: Tom O'Toole and his best mate Keith McIntosh hope to drive across the country in his 1930 Model A Ford to raise money for FECRI directed by Professor George Kannourakis. Picture: Jeremy Banister

OUTBACK CHALLENGE: Tom O'Toole and his best mate Keith McIntosh hope to drive across the country in his 1930 Model A Ford to raise money for FECRI directed by Professor George Kannourakis. Picture: Jeremy Banister

The pair hope to raise over $100,000 for the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute in Ballarat. 

“My mate Keith, he lost his mum through cancer. I lost my mum through cancer and I have a brother with cancer too,” Mr O’Toole said. 

Keith had a melanoma from his ear only two weeks ago. 

The pair will embark from Beechworth on March 21 in their noisy vintage car with no seatbelts or doors that is prone to breaking down.

They are set to return in May after passing through Alice Springs and Steep Point throughout the 30 day journey. 

Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute director Professor George Kannourakis said the fundraising from their trip would help the institute realise its vision of developing antibodies in Ballarat and having a say on the sale price of the expensive biological agents. 

“The focus of the research of this institute is to determine whether we can find new targets and new antibodies,” he said.

“I do believe this institute is going to be a strong contributor to cancer research over the years.”

VINTAGE CAR: Tom O'Toole in his 1930s A Model Ford. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

VINTAGE CAR: Tom O'Toole in his 1930s A Model Ford. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

FECRI is not government funded, and relies on funding from individuals and community. 

“Without funding we can’t employ our scientists and we can’t do our research. There is only one thing that stops research and that is the funding. There is no reason why we couldn’t have the best research institute in Australia here in Ballarat if we had the funding,” Professor Kannourakis said. 

“One of our strategic directions for the institute is that we want to have a say in controlling the price of these very expensive biological agents, and the only way we can do that is to keep ownership of that here in Australia.”

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