City News

Pedalling for the greater good

The Variety Cycle helps kids like Shanti Woodend. Photo: Chris Peken

Lycra-clad cyclists are cranking up their gears as they prepare for the Variety Cycle from Sydney to Uluru.

Setting off from Pyrmont Bay Park on Sunday March 22, the cycle will raise money for Variety, a national not-for-profit organisation committed to empowering Australian children who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs.

The route is almost 4000km long and with a number of cycling participation options available it is set to get novice and proficient cyclists alike pedalling for the greater good.

Seeing the group off will be an eager bunch of special-needs and disadvantaged kids who will mount their bikes and tricycles.

Across the 26-day event, riders will engage with remote communities, schools and hospitals, delivering needed equipment and resources.

Heather Woodend, mother of 14-year-old Shanti, said Variety had been a great support over the last eight years. Shanti’s rare condition, a co-occurrence of birth defects, saw her spent much of her life as a child in and out of Westmead Hospital. Necessary procedures have include ultrasounds, blood tests, kidney work and more than 10 operations.

“The cost was getting out of hand,” Ms Woodend said. “We probably wouldn’t have been able to cope without Variety’s help.”

Shanti is a keen cyclist herself. “She’s a bundle of energy and her condition doesn’t stop her doing anything,” Ms Woodend said.

Millers Point resident Rod Morris and a group of bankers from Macquarie Bank’s Sydney office will also be joining the cyclists.

Mr Morris said he has been honing his novice cycling skills in the lead up to the event with the view that helping  e to get him through the exhaustive ride.

“It’s a wonderful way to to test my endurance and hopefully the motivation of my fellow cyclists will get me through the day,” he said.

Mr Morris has signed up for the first day of the cycle: 100km from Sydney to Picton.

Also among the Sydney locals involved is Chris Smith and his team of riders from Macquarie’s Banking and Financial Services Group.

With a crew of seven keen and proficient riders, the team have signed up to cover a distance of 330km, from Sydney to Canberra.

Mr Smith’s efforts are also a way to show his children the importance of helping others in need.

“By leading an active lifestyle and fundraising for Variety, I know I am setting a worthy parenting example,” he said. “Raising as much money as possible for Variety has become really important to both me and my team mates.”

More than $3500 has been raised by the group of bankers so far, and the cycle has received pledges of almost $400,000.