FIONA Elsey convened a meeting in her family lounge room 30 years ago to start fundraising for cancer research. Not long having turned 13 years old, Fiona was realising the vital importance of research while at the same time undergoing own aggressive treatment for Ewing's sarcoma, a cancer that forms in bone and soft tissue.
Eight people, including mum Gail Elsey, were part of the first meeting to help start bringing to life Fiona's dream for cancer research in her hometown.
Fiona had passion for learning about research from her oncologist George Kannourakis, who has played a key role as honourary director at the now-Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute.
Ballarat Cycle Classic carries on what Fiona started.
More than 10 years ago, the Classic was the idea of three businessmen who wanted to honour their great friend Bruce Stafford, who had died with cancer.
Every cent from Classic registrations goes towards FECRI's internationally-recognised work in Ballarat.
Dr Kannourakis set an ambitious $300,000 target for this year's Classic in a bid to launch a fully-fledged, new breast cancer research program aiming to change treatment for the disease, including its most aggressive forms, worldwide.
Entries are booming for the Classic on Sunday with almost $214,000 raised, as of Tuesday evening. The Institute is appealing for people to get involved any way they could, particularly in family-friendly events like cycling laps of Lake Wendouree or the pet--friendly walk and run about the lake, or turning up on the day and getting involved in the Classic village.
Gail Elsey said Fiona would be rapt with the increasing support from the community each year. The early versions of FECRI started a couple of years after Fiona's death in 1991, age 14. But Fiona was adamant such work could and should be done in Ballarat.
Fiona would be thrilled knowing the benefits this research has to people and the opportunities now for what is evolving in research.Gail Elsey
"Fiona would be thrilled knowing the benefits this research has to people and the opportunities now for what is evolving in research," Ms Elsey said. "Ballarat Cycle Classic is a great event that brings everyone in our community and people from near and far who travel to support this event together with a common goal.
"The most important thing in the Classic are the volunteers. Fi would've been grateful of that - she volunteered her time and everyone out there is giving their time freely."
Me Elsey said Ballarat's health services offer amazing access to cancer treatment, a great achievement for a regional centre, and the Institute's research played an important role towards improved outcomes.
For more Classic details: ballaratcycleclassic.com.au.
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