In the words of Mick Malthouse, “What is your excuse for not taking part?”
Ballarat took his question about how to support the cure for cancer and the work of the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute seriously and turned out in droves for the annual Ballarat Cycle Classic.
Unlike last year’s more typical Ballarat conditions of wet and cold, this year offered an almost perfect Sunday and any hope of an excuse of pulling up the doona a little higher and ignoring the alarm were overcome by a beautiful morning and light winds. The ideal conditions not only for a long ride but also for a walk or run around the lake, where the carnival with a great cause all comes together.
For fun and healthy as the whole event is, it has a far more serious underlying purpose. Causes like the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute mean a great deal to many people. There would not be many people in Ballarat whose lives have not been touched by cancer. It has taken many loved ones from us and has changed the lives of many more who have survived. This is what Sunday’s ride was all about and this is how each little contribution helps make a difference. So in a certain extent the Cycle Classic is a gesture by everyone for everyone.
One of the great things that has often been said about about Ballarat is it is a city but not too big. It has grown up to be so much more than a country town with its many lifestyle advantages and offerings of a bigger metropolis, but has not lost that palpable sense of community often associated with smaller places. A size when good causes like the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute really matter personally to many people. Where so many people have stories to share about the difference it has made and the many taht will know someone positively affected by the Research.
So strong is this spirit that the number of participants in the classic is now looking toward 2000 people willing to get out and active all for a good cause. A comparable percentage in Melbourne would see almost 100,000 people turn up for a charity event. While that number might seem unmanageable, Sunday’s Ballarat event has not lost its community carnival, neighbourly feel.
But back to the reason behind all this effort whether it is riders walkers or volunteers. To see those numbers must be a thrill to the Institute and all who work so hard there. To Fiona’s mother Gail an even greater pride knowing the legacy of her daughter is alive and strong.