ON December 7, 15-year-old Josh Goyne will get on his bike on the side of Lake Ginninderra and pedal off on a 277-kilometre ride to Sydney.
“Basically, the whole idea of it is to raise money and awareness for stroke,” says Josh. “It’s all in honour of my grandfather, who’s just suffered his fifth stroke and he’s paralysed from the waist down now.”
The athletic Melba Copland Secondary School year 10 student is not a cyclist or a triathlete. He plays soccer and softball, and only discovered the joys of pedal power earlier this year, while visiting his grandfather, Barry, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland where he lives.
“I only started riding geared bikes about two weeks before I came up with the idea,” he says. “I was riding a BMX before that, but when I was up in Queensland I started riding a mountain bike around and it was pretty fun.”
He says going cycling helped him deal with the sadness he felt for his grandpa, who needs constant nursing care and will never walk around his farm again, and he was on the bike when he came up with something positive he could do.
“When I told him, he cried for about two minutes straight and wouldn’t stop hugging me, and he started asking if there was any way I could film it for him,” says Josh.
So Barry could follow his progress, saving up for a GoPro digital camera was added to the long list of arrangements, but now a family friend has come up with a plan to help pay for it.
He’s also raising money selling discount tickets for Canberra’s champion baseball team, the Cavalry, who are letting him throw the first pitch of the game and do a lap of the field, on top of donating more prizes for him to raffle off. Canberra United women’s soccer team are also giving him similar opportunities and Pushy’s Bike Warehouse has loaned him one of the two bikes he needs.
Another thing Josh found when he started cycling was that it came naturally to him.
“The first training session, I did 35km in under an hour, so that was a good start, and I’m doing training rides every morning now.”
Josh is raising donations for the National Stroke Foundation, which funds research to help improve the lives of stroke survivors as well as educating the public on the signs and symptoms and how to lower the risk of stroke by keeping the cardiovascular system in good health.
The Foundation’s CEO Dr Erin Lalor says there are about 420,000 stroke survivors in Australia, and the vast majority are not getting the care and assistance they need with daily living, due to “neglect by government and the lack of investment in stroke services”.
Josh plans to break up the challenge into three days of about 90km each, and is lining up people who have survived strokes and their loved ones to meet along the way.
The amount of effort he has put into organising the challenge himself – attracting sponsors, arranging fundraising opportunities, insurance and equipment and working out an agreement with the Foundation – is impressive for someone his age.
“I’m trying to be as self-sufficient as I can; the only thing dad’s getting involved in is driving the car up,” he says.
To support Josh, go to his Facebook page at facebook.com/stroke.awareness.ride.2013