Big man has big heart


HENRY Williams is a big man and he has a big heart to match – so big that he is gearing up for his second Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge.
He is one of the founding members of the Wuchopperen Health Service Cardiac Challenge team and while he says the ride is a tough event, it is worthwhile not just for himself, but for the broader community. This year, Wuchopperen has a team of 11 participants, aiming to raise $5000 for cardiac services in the Far North, between them.
Wuchopperen Health Service medical director Dr Vlad Matic, who was the highest individual fundraiser in 2015, said the organisation was passionate about this because the high rates of rheumatic heart disease in the Indigenous community as a chronic condition require numerous interventions and cardiac specialists' input.
The Wuchopperen team is comprised of staff from the corporate, dental, diabetes education, social emotional counsellors, doctor, bus drivers and family and parenting workers. The group trains together three mornings a week and has undergone specialised cycling skills training.
“I believe it has built a better working relationship with the collegues at Wuchopperen , and it is an enjoyable, social way to improve fitness. Wuchopperen is a community based health service, and being involved in the wider community is great way to increase the stature of the service,” Dr Matic said.
“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who experience and die from cardiovascular disease at much higher rates than other Australians. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, when compared with other Australians, are three times as likely to have cardiovascular disease; three times more likely to have a major coronary event, such as a heart attack; more than twice as likely to die in hospital from coronary heart disease; 19 times as likely to die from acute rheumatic fever and chronic rheumatic heart disease; more likely to smoke, have high blood pressure, be obese, have diabetes and have end-stage renal disease.”
Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation fundraising and marketing manager and Cardiac Challenge co-ordinator Glenys Duncombe said the immense effort put in by the Wuchopperen team was a great example to the broader community of what could be achieved.
“We never say this is 'cardiac easy', it's a tough event, but it's worthwhile for individuals to prove to themselves what they can achieve, and it is building the cardiac services we have in the Far North,” Ms Duncombe said. “We actually have a few corporate teams involved this year, and it's great to see them recognising the benefits to their workplace of working together as a team for their community.”
The Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge is an annual fundraising ride from Cairns to Cooktown in September.
For further information visit Cardiac Challenge.

Photo: Tony Pappas, Keith Elaisa, Sharee Webb, Doris Ahmat, Henry Williams, Melissa Ernst, Natalie Forbes, Fred Mills, Michelle Dougan.


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