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Cycling to raise cancer-fighting funds
This week is Men’s Health Week, a country-wide event aimed at educating, promoting and raising awareness of all things to do with the health and wellbeing of men of all ages. A health crisis in member Ashley Browne’s family prompted him to embark on a fundraising bike ride for charity.
Leopold member Ashley Browne’s son Chris was diagnosed with leukaemia in December 2011 at 21 years of age. He was admitted to Geelong Hospital for two rounds of chemotherapy and went into remission quickly.
“Chris was then admitted to Peter Mac in late April 2012 for 11 sessions of total body radiation treatment over four days,” explained Ashley, “and then transferred to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for a total of 108 days for more chemo and a stem cell transplant.
“Our daughter Nicky had found out that she was a blood match and she donated stem cells that saved Chris’s life. Chris went through a recovery that was often really painful.”
Each year from 2009 to 2011, Ashley rode an average 10,000 kilometres on his bike and was prompted to use that riding passion to raise money for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. With six friends, family members and colleagues of Chris, he took part in the Peter Mac Ride to Conquer Cancer. While cycling 200 kilometres from Albert Park to Healesville and back again, the group managed to raise just over $27,000.
“We arranged a family fundraising event in 2013, this time to support the Leukaemia Foundation, and that brought in about $20,000,” continued Ashley.
“Our family had lived in an apartment supplied by the foundation when we were in Melbourne supporting Chris in hospital.”
Ashley works as a motor mechanic in prototype works in the Ford plant’s research and development centre in Geelong. When there was the chance to raise more funds for the Leukaemia Foundation through the World’s Greatest Shave, Nicky who works as a hairdresser visited and shaved anyone who signed up.
By 2014, Chris did his own fundraising bike ride over four days for the Kid’s Foundation, riding from Byron Bay to Port Macquarie.
At 26, he is now considered ‘recovered’ but continues to have a blood test every year. Nicky is 24.
Ashley now averages about 6000 kilometres a year on his bike. He and his wife Teresa are just enjoying sitting back and watching their children settle into their adult lives.
Ashley will step up to become Leopold captain on 1 July 2016.