“AS long as I've got legs, I'll be doing the Cardiac Challenge.”
So says Cairns mum, midwife and cyclist Mary McGuinness and her husband Sean agrees wholeheartedly.
“I first saw the arrival of the Cardiac Challenge cyclists in Cooktown five years ago when my brother-in-law rode it with Sean and I was waiting at Cooktown for them. Watching that massive crowd of cyclists riding in was just overwhelming. I had to be part of it.
“To me, it looked like 'All Creatures Great and Small'. There are all sorts of people on all sorts of bikes and it just brings so many people together,” Mrs McGuinness said. “Everyone is just delirious with happiness when they ride in, it's such a fabulous achievement and often it's something that many people never thought they could do.”
There was so much excitement among our neighbours there was even a street party the first time Sean rode the event with his friend Warwick, to “welcome the heroes home”.
“But this story is not unique to us, it's the Cardiac story. You meet amazing people who you might not otherwise. It's my favourite cycling event of the year. The whole weekend has a spirit of its own, it feels very special, the organisation is great, and everybody has a great time.”
Sean concurs. “It's an amazing event, raising money for fantastic services for the far north community, Many of my friends have come from this cycling community. Cardiac Challenge is almost a movement of its own.”
He acknowledges that both their families, albeit overseas, have cardiac history.
“It's actually an amazing hospital and it's made even better because of the community it's in.”
So dedicated are the pair, that they are now both pack leaders in the event. Sean has been a pack leader for several years, and Mary braved the role of pack leader last year for the first time.
Foundation fundraising and marketing manager Glenys Duncombe, who co-ordinates the event, says stories like Sean and Mary's were not unusual.
“We know this event changes lives, not just in the funds that it raises, but also in the fact it changes the lives of participants, supporters and volunteers,” Ms Duncombe said.
Many of the event organisers attend the Sea Breeze Café Sunday morning rides, all abilities welcome, including people who have not registered to do Cardiac Challenge.
*The Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge is held from September 16-18, riding from Cairns to Cooktown. Early bird registrations for the 2017 event close on June 14. Visit www.cardiacchallenge.org.au.
PHOTO: Mary and Sean McGuinness are thrilled to be saddling up for another Cardiac Challenge.
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