In 2010 Jonathon Wheeler organised a three day trek as part of his Gold Duke of Edinburgh program. On a frosty morning in June five adults and four kids set off on a 210klm mountain bike ride from Armidale through the magnificent eastern fall forests, down the escarpment on to the mighty Macleay River winding our way to the clear blue waters at the beautiful fishing village of South West Rocks. The ride was so successful it needed to be shared with our communities.
The tour was born and the Tour de Rocks organisation established. The following year 320 participants took part in the event raising in excess of $100,000 since then over 6 years we have raised over $1.5m for regional cancer research, awareness and prevention programs.
We have a mantra within our organisation that our budget for expenses is zero. With 11 board members, around 15 subcommittee members that provide the governance, drive and resources necessary to manage such an extraordinary event, we are well placed to continue our growth and be able have a significant impact on cancer within our communities.
Nothing compares with a regional community for generosity of spirit when the call goes out that we need a hand. The volunteers, donated equipment, resources and product required to feed and water in excess of 500 people including a baked dinner at the Junction has to be seen to be believed. The catering team has become legendary.
Whilst our primary focus is cancer, there are many parallel activities that strengthen the tour de rocks reputation as a worthy cause. We provide the opportunity for people to give something back to our communities, the opportunity for people to do something they thought unachievable, and significantly an activity that brings families together through common objectives building memories that will last a lifetime and will be drawn upon when times get tough. There are very often tears at the finish line when people realise what they have achieved not only through completing the ride, but also successfully fundraising and contributing to their communities.
The event has been recognised twice as the most successful local community event at the Australia Day awards.
Our job is to engage and inspire communities to raise awareness in relation to cancer prevention through healthy living, assist those battling the disease and raise funds for cancer research. This year we have a number of initiatives including health monitoring programs, an extended training season, and fully electronic registration and fundraising.
I look forward to catching up for a chat at one of our functions or on the ride.