'Paying it forward' by the seat of his pants

19:22, Feb 19 2013
Dean Connolly is riding his bike around New Zealand to raise awareness for children’s charities.
LIFE-CHANGING: Dean Connolly is riding his bike around New Zealand to raise awareness for children’s charities.

When Wellington photographer Dean Connolly first got on a bike to embark on his Cycle 4 Life tour around New Zealand in 2010, he had barely cycled beyond the length of his driveway.

This year, he wanted to give the roughly 6237 kilometre journey another go with Cycle 4 Life 2 - this time with a little more knowledge and bike savvy.

"I didn't know anything about cycling the first time, so this time, with a little more experience, I thought it would be more enjoyable."

Dean Connolly is riding his bike around New Zealand to raise awareness for children’s charities.
LIFE-CHANGING: Dean Connolly is riding his bike around New Zealand to raise awareness for children’s charities.

Pulling up to The Southland Times this week, Mr Connolly said the tour, which started in Picton on February 1 and took him down the length of the South Island, was a repeat adventure with the same simple goal of urging people to support a charity that had helped them personally.

Having benefited from charities as a youth, he wanted to "pay it forward" and encourage other people to appreciate non-profit groups who had helped them.

He expected to start his North Island tour on March 13, finishing up Cycle 4 Life 2 in Wellington on May 7.

The idea had started from seeing a show about a woman who jogged 60kms to celebrate her 60th birthday. Mr Connolly, who was approaching 40 in 2010, said he was inspired to set off on a mountain bike he designed himself, with a touring trailer carrying his camera equipment.

People often stopped him to ask what he was promoting and he welcomed the opportunity to talk about the importance of supporting charity, he said.

" . . . the idea is that one person is able to make a positive difference in the life of others no matter who they are."

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The Southland Times