Last ride for a good cause
The odds have been against terminally ill man Wayne Biggs, but he is determined to complete his final journey around the South Island; by Vespa, no less.
Biggs, who was diagnosed with lymphoma and told he had months left to live, intended to ride with friend Michael Huddleston around the South Island to raise money for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.
But just one day into their week-long journey, which started from Biggs's home in Dunedin, the pair encountered bad weather just outside Picton. A storm made the roads slippery with oil and diesel and Huddleston fell off his Vespa, breaking his collarbone and finger.
He was quickly admitted to Wairau Hospital in Blenheim, with Biggs by his side. He is expected to be discharged, but will not be able to complete the journey. Despite the hurdle, this has not dampened their spirits.
"You're always going to have ups and downs," said Biggs.
"It was sad leaving him behind in hospital but he sort of booted me out and said 'get going'."
Biggs, 43, has continued his journey alone, arriving in Nelson yesterday afternoon on a bright orange scooter with his fundraising slogan; 'Tiny Wheels for a Giant Cause' adorning the front. The father of two boys, aged six and two, also wore a matching orange T-shirt proudly displaying the fundraising cause.
"The boys miss me, but they are used to it since I've been away in hospital a lot, they also love their matching bright orange T-shirts," he said.
Biggs, raised in Ngatimoti and where his parents still reside, revisited his roots in Motueka Valley yesterday. He will then ride down the West Coast all the way to Invercargill and Bluff before returning home to Dunedin on Sunday via the Caitlins, completing the journey.
Biggs was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in February 2014, at the time he was not very worried as people said it had a higher cure rate than most cancers. But in December last year, he was told his treatment had failed and he had three to six months left to live.
Biggs always dreamed of motor-biking around a wild place like Siberia but he has now settled on the South Island of New Zealand.
"This is my approximation of that," he said.
The 2500-kilometre journey has already raised nearly $7500 for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.
"I wanted to give something back, and this is my way of doing that," he said.
The support and treatments he received from his haematology team at Dunedin Hospital spurred him to make his final journey resonate with people he hoped would be luckier than him.
"[Lymphoma] effects so many young people, when I was going in for chemo I'd see so many 18 and 19-year-olds... I'm 43 so it's not that bad a run" he said.
Returning to Nelson, where he spent much of his youth, was a great experience.
"It's great seeing all my mountains again, I used to ride motorbikes around here as a kid so it's nice riding the same roads again," he said.
After he has completed the journey he will spend what time he has left with his family.
"I'm hoping that the donations I raise will save some other guy like me so hopefully next time he will get a bit longer with his kids," he said.
Donations of support for 'Tiny Wheels' can be made to Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand through the fundraising page: http://www.leukaemia.org.nz/view-event-profile/2713 and updates on the ride can be found on The Biggo Trust's Facebook page: facebook.com/thebiggotrust.
- The Nelson Mail