Firefighters hit the road in cancer campaign

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 29/11/2012
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JONATHAN CAMERON
Chris Askew, left, Shawn Scott and Keith Murphy are doing a charity motorbike run to raise awareness of cancer.

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A bunch of Taranaki firefighters are donning their leathers in preparation for a four-day, 1660 kilometre motorcycle ride to raise money and awareness for cancer.

Yesterday, the eight-strong Taranaki pack left Inglewood to join the estimated 140 other riders from around the country in Wellington for the inaugural Ride for Cancer charity fundraiser.

The firefighters, as well as anyone else with a motorcycle who wanted to join, will travel from Invercargill to Whangarei (2041km) over four days, finishing on Saturday.

The group has collectively raised around $28,000, with about $3000 coming from Taranaki for the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

The ride was the brainchild of Auckland firefighter Rob Appleton, who championed the idea after attending the third funeral of a colleague in just over a year.

Two of the Inglewood firefighters had brushes with the disease that motivated them to get behind the cause.

Station officer Keith Murphy said firefighters were exposed to a level of toxins in their work that may increase the risk of becoming sick.

"Lots of overseas studies have shown we have higher risks of developing different kinds of cancers. One chap at New Plymouth station is currently undergoing treatment.

"It's pretty close to home."

Volunteer firefighter Shawn Scott said his family was riddled with the disease - he lost his mother in February.

"One in three families are affected by cancer, it touches most people so if we can do a bit to help it will be good."

He said the ride was not just about raising money for people with cancer and for research, but encouraging people to get out and do the screening.

"If staunch firefighters can do it, so can everybody else."

Mr Scott said the donations they had received in Taranaki had been disappointing.

"If there's a ride next year we'll start earlier with fundraising."

He said there were two new F10 firefighter helmets donated by Pacific Helmets and signed by Rachel Hunter, Shane Cameron, Dave Dobbyn and John Key on Trade Me, with the current bid for one at $610.

Senior volunteer firefighter Chris Askew said his partner suggested they register for the ride.

Mr Askew said he gets out and about on his 800cc Suzuki Boulevard but it was ready for a longer excursion.

"I go out to Mokau and back for a whitebait sandwich."

But the ride was not just restricted to the big engines, with one rider on a 50cc scooter.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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