Biking for child health awareness

DOIN' IT FOR THE KIDS: (Back, from left) Elaine Welford, Chris Maslin, Julie Phillips, Graham Yarrall are riding in the Central South Island Charity Bike Ride to raise awareness and money for their relations support organisations. with Heather and Lisa Woolmore at front.
DOIN' IT FOR THE KIDS: (Back, from left) Elaine Welford, Chris Maslin, Julie Phillips, Graham Yarrall are riding in the Central South Island Charity Bike Ride to raise awareness and money for their relations support organisations. with Heather and Lisa Woolmore at front.

Today 16-year-old Timaru girl Lisa Woolmore will go to Auckland to be assessed for a heart transplant.

While she is nervous about the big step she is about to take, a life where she does not need a wheelchair to get around is too tempting to resist.

She is one of a number of children with serious health conditions who has a parent riding in the Central South Island Charity Bikeride to raise awareness and funds for their children's causes.

The three day bike ride on February 27 until March 1 will see more than 150 cyclists cover 365 kms through the Waitaki Valley and Mackenzie District raising funds for Heart Children South Canterbury, Hospice South Canterbury, Epilepsy South Canterbury, Parent to Parent, Charge Syndrome, and the Seabrook McKenzie Trust which provides assistance to children and adults with including Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and other related conditions.

While Lisa looks forward to getting out of her wheelchair, her mother Heather and member of Heart Children South Canterbury is getting on a bike and training for the big ride.

"We are fundraising to set up a travel fund account which will be used to support families when their child needs to go to Auckland," Heather said.

"I have lost count as to how many times we have taken Lisa to Auckland Starship or Greenlane Hospital - it is near to 20 visits for surgery and investigations on her heart."

Another Heart Children member Julie Phillips will be pulling on her bikeshorts and making the trip, knowing first hand the importance of the organisation she belongs to with her five-year-old heart child.

"It is not only to raise awareness for your own cause because you do not know about them until you really need them. The best way to spread awareness is through word of mouth and this helps put us and other organisations out there."

Elaine Welford will be riding for her granddaughter about to be delivered with a diagnosed heart problem, having been through the heartbreak of losing another heartchild.

Chris Maslin is involved because of his son Joshua who has Charge syndrome which presents with life-threatening birth defects, including complex heart defects and breathing problems. Many charge babies will spend many months in the hospital and undergo numerous surgeries and other treatments.

"My son has difficulty swallowing , partial vision and a cleft palate. At the age of three has had 18 surgeries."

Graham Yarrall is riding for his wife who was once a heart child.

"People say how old is your heart child and I say she is 44 and I am 75 and have aged very well."

All the money raised on the ride stays local and the cyclists pay for their own accommodation and associated costs.

On the first day the cyclists will start in Timaru and ride to Kurow, day two takes riders to the Tekapo Army Barracks and the final day back to Timaru finishing at the Phar Lap Raceway.

 

The Timaru Herald