TEARS flowed as a group of purpose-filled cyclists peddled into Port Macquarie – crossing the finish line of a challenging 1000km charity bike ride last Thursday.
During their five-day journey participants and sponsors of the KIDS Foundation annual Ride to Port Brad Forster Challenge raised some $100,000 for children suffering from serious injuries.
Olympian and swimming legend Susie O’Neill once again rode alongside the group empowered to make a difference for Australia’s young ones.
The former sporting star well-known as Madame Butterfly said the inspiring stories of the little ones they were supporting provided plenty of push to keep going.
“Every time you were feeling a bit of pain or discomfort you realised it’s nothing compared to what these kids have gone through,” O’Neill said.
The group started spinning their wheels in Mansfield, Albury and made their way through Canberra and Shoal Bay to get to Port Macquarie.
They spent mornings visiting locals schools and at night spent time watching inspiring stories to remind them of their mission.
In Port Macquarie riders were met with the beaming smile of one of those children who would benefit from their efforts.
Little 8-year-old Brock Howes and his family are supported through the Burns Survivor Network, an incorporated arm of the KIDS Foundation.
The Melbourne boy nearly lost his life in a house fire when he was three years old.
“We just couldn’t find him,” his mother Dee Mohi said. “He was the last one out.”
Frightened by the blaze, a tiny Brock took shelter under a cot while his parents desperately searched for him.
“We’re very lucky to have him and we know that,” Mrs Mohi said.
Brock represents just one of hundreds of children who have found a sense of community and purpose through the KIDS Foundation.
The foundation has become an extended family for the Mohi’s - with every bit of support going a long way to improving the quality of life for their little boy.
KIDS Foundation founder and CEO Susie O’Neill and Brad Forster have been doing the ride and taking part in the Ironman Australia for the past three years.
She said children like Brock brought home the message behind the cause.
When she first started the foundation 20 years ago, there was no national support network for burns survivors.
But today the foundation is changing the lives of children all over Australia.
This year was the first time the ride incorporated the charity event with visits to local schools to raise awareness of injury prevention and to conduct safety education workshops.
The group also managed to donate a number of bicycles to schools in a bid to encourage children to ride more.
“We’ve had a fantastic time and we’re really excited about the funds we’ve raised,” she said.
The foundation’s second charity cycling event dubbed Dalton’s Ride takes place on August 28, 2013, from Gatton to Noosa.
KIDS is an acronym for Kids In Dangerous Situations.
The foundation aims to redress shocking childhood injury statistics in Australia –X with more children dying from injury than disease every year.
n For more information, to register for Dalton’s Ride or to donate visit www.kidsfoundation