Recently we were privileged to be asked to be a part of The Captain’s Ride; a challenging 700km ride over six days from Mittagong in the NSW Southern Highlands to Mt Kosciusko raising funds for the Steve Waugh Foundation, a charity headed by Steve and his wife Lynette to help the children in Australia who suffer from rare diseases and slip through the cracks of funding from the government’s medical support system.
“The rare disease patient is the orphan of the health system, often without diagnosis, without treatment, without research and therefore, without reason to hope. This needs to change.” – Steve Waugh Foundation
The idea behind the Captain’s Ride is that this tough journey emulates what the kids have to experience in their everyday lives, the riders have to dig deep to get up those steep hills and support each other. We would be alongside the participants documenting every step of the way.
“The words “strength of character” are the very pillar that binds the Steve Waugh Foundation, these very words best exemplify the attitude to life shown by each and every one of the children with a rare disease we support. This is the cornerstone of what we stand for and do, from the people we support, to the people who support us” – Steve Waugh AO
We started by filming five different families that have been helped by the Foundation; to tell their stories so the Riders and the public would learn just what they have to go through every single day and why the Foundation’s help is so vital. It was revelatory for us to get to know the children and their families and see how they have so much to overcome yet they find the strength to rise above their difficult circumstances and maintain such positivity about the future.
The parents gratitude towards the Foundation was evident, the support really has changed their lives immeasurably and in some cases it has saved their child’s life.
Feeling motivated by these stories we set out for Mittagong to start the Ride; after a ribbon cutting by Foundation Ambassador Renee alongside sponsored kids Liam and Sarah, the 65 riders across 3 pelotons, set out on October 29th for the first leg to Goulburn. Among the riders were such sporting heavyweights as former AFL player and Australian of the Year Adam Goodes, Cricket record holder Matthew Hayden, British Olympic legend Daley Thompson and star of Aussie cycling Anna Meares. This year there was a world first with The Riderless Bike which represents all the kids who can’t be there physically but will be there in spirit to support the Ride.
It was a great start to the journey that would go to Canberra, Cooma, Adaminaby and Khancoban before ending at Lake Crackenback in the Snowy Mountains. Spectacular scenery that made the tough hills that little bit easier to bear!
Every night there was an inspiring speaker, such as Rory Steyn; formerly Nelson Mandela’s bodyguard and Lance Corporal Gary Wilson who survived a Black Hawk crash in Afghanistan and has overcome significant injuries. We would also show one of the films from the families and it was clear to see the strength the riders got from knowing what they were riding for.
The mateship and good natured sledging really bonded everyone together and helped them get through the challenges – a dirt hill that covered the pelatons in dust and mud, injuries: a broken hand on the third day that didn’t stop Brian Yates, Michael Milton was doing it with one leg, paraplegic John Maclean back on a conventional bike with his carbon fiber leg devices and the grueling hills of the last two days that tested even the fittest riders. This is when they really dug deep for the cause, we would ask them who they were riding for – they always had an answer. Sometimes it was for Alyssa, suffering from Spinal Muscular Dystrophy, Renee who has Geleophysic Dysplasia (Dwarfism) or Liam with Acute Demyelinating Encephalomyopathy (ADEM). There were moments of some riders actually pushing their teammate up the hill. It was truly a momentous effort by all involved.
On the last day every single rider showed their indomitable spirit, courage and determination and pushed all the way to the top of ‘Dead Horse Gap’ – a grueling 17km straight of vertical climbing to 1500m elevation in order to complete the 700km journey. Celebrated wholeheartedly by the riders, support crews and everyone that made this incredible event what it was. It had been a life changing week for many of the participants and having seen them go through it day by day we felt the same way.
In the words of Tour Captain Kent Williams from Entoure: “The Steve Waugh Foundation is truly amazing; by the time the tour was done you could see why. Steve had given all he had to give on and off the bike Captaining this tour across all fronts and hand picking his side of VIPs that would inspire us each and every day and Lynette had worked tirelessly bringing her crack team to make sure whatever riders needed was done; no easy task. They both also made sure we knew the kids and the cause sharing family’s stories each day ensuring riders had a link and purpose. If the Foundation could have done better I honestly don’t know how. Maybe that’s the game changer here. This event is so much more than just a ride.”
It had been more than just a shoot for our team as well. We were impressed, motivated and inspired by the kids, the Riders and the Steve Waugh Foundation. Such amazing people doing incredible things for a truly worthy cause. We look forward to being a part of it again next year.