Firefighters ride to tackle cancer

VANITA PRASAD AND EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 02/11/2012
RIDE
VANITA PRASAD
FIRED UP: Firefighter Rob Appleton is encouraging people to donate or participate in the Firefighters Ride for Cancer.

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Hoses and trucks won't be required when firefighters around the country hit the road in an effort to halt our biggest killer.

More than 150 motorbike riders will make the journey from Invercargill to Whangarei over five days at the end of November for the first Firefighters Ride For Cancer.

The charity motorcade aims to raise $50,000 for the Cancer Society of New Zealand to help with research into the illness that affects one in three Kiwis every year.

The event has been organised by Balmoral senior firefighter Rob Appleton and a number of Kiwi celebrities, including Rachel Hunter, are supporting it.

Mr Appleton says he set up the ride in memory of colleagues he's lost to the illness.

"I decided there has to be some way that we as firefighters and as an organisation could help to raise awareness and money to help our communities fight this terrible disease," Mr Appleton says.

"There's probably not one person in New Zealand who hasn't been affected by cancer whether it's a family member, friend or colleague."

Riders hope to raise awareness about the importance of early detection.

"We believe it is really important to encourage men to get checked as well as women," he says.

Mr Appleton says the idea to raise money started out small but he is humbled by how it has grown.

"Initially the ride was going to be an Auckland event where I'd ride around the area's stations shaking a bucket.

"But soon word got out and I was getting emails from Hamilton and then Invercargill about people they'd lost."

More than 50 riders have so far signed up and senior station officer Chris Delfos says he knows of one firefighter who's doing the ride on his moped.

Even former model Rachel Hunter, musician Dave Dobbyn and boxer Shane Cameron have got on board. They won't be making the 2041 kilometre ride, but have signed firefighter's helmets that will be auctioned on Trade Me later in the month.

The helmets are a new design that will be replacing the ones worn since the 1980s.

Ms Hunter visited the Pitt St fire station for the signing last month.

She says cancer is a cause that's close to her heart.

"If there is anything that any of us can be doing to continue research then what better thing to do is there?"

Visit rideforcancer.org.nz for more information.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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