AFL premiership player and coach Michael Malthouse says Danny Frawley's legacy shows Ballarat Cycle Classic is far more than a charity ride.
Mr Malthouse said the Classic was a vital opportunity to be with friends, talking as you move and enjoying the fresh air - particularly with a begonias in full bloom, thanks to a delayed date.
A passionate mental health ambassador, Mr Frawley was also a long-time Classic ambassador promoting home-grown cancer research before his death in September 2019. The Victorian coroner's report this week revealed the complexities in Mr Frawley's mental health struggle.
Mr Malthouse, a fellow Ballarat AFL export, said the Classic was a great way to honour Mr Frawley's work in mental health and cancer research awareness.
"The coroner's report shows there are so many things we're not privy to about a person, and it's such a shock. But it shows how many people might be suffering various things and lockdowns have probably exacerbated things for many people," Mr Malthouse said.
"Ballarat Cycle Classic has more than one benefit. More than $2 million has been raised for cancer research via the the Cycle Classic but it's also a good opportunity for mental stimulation. The Classic is a chance to reacquaint with friends and clear the mind."
The Classic is the major fundraiser for Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute. For the second year, the Classic will host the second annual Spud100, a 100-mile (or 160-kilometre) endurance ride, in tribute to Mr Frawley's work with the Institute.
Mr Malthouse, who has been a Classic ambassador for three years, said while he loved riding, it was most likely he would be walking the lake with his wife Nanette, a breast cancer survivor. Nanette Malthouse has just completed five years' cancer treatment.
"You think you're clear of cancer, then take two minutes to think and you'll come up with a list. When people first asked me about it I found I didn't realise how deeply cancer had affected me," Mr Malthouse said. "Cancer has taken teammates, my parents and my brother-in-law. My wife survived it.
"So many people are impacted by this insidious disease."
You think you're clear of cancer, then take two minutes to think and you'll come up with a list.- Michael Malthouse
Mr Malthouse said the Classic was a way to help Ballarat researchers "throw everything at it". He said Cancer Council figures such as one in two Australians would be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85 were sobering. Instead of "burying your head in the sand", the Classic was a way to take action.
FECRI receives no government funding and relies on public generosity to keep achieving internationally-renowned findings. Every cent from registrations helps fund FECRI research programs, including the new breast cancer project Classic efforts launched last year.
Classic organisers last week opted to delay the event by three weeks in the wake of Victoria's snap lockdown and lingering uncertainty in public events at the time.
Mr Malthouse said the wait would not hurt.
"In mid-March you know Ballarat is going to be beautiful. You can be with friends, discuss things, walk or run and just generally have a good day out," Mr Malthouse said. "...This is a great opportunity in a small way, only it could be for very big results. The results through the foundation shows what can take place with people power.
"We need people power again and you're going to see Ballarat at its best."
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