The Ride for Sick Kids is an annual event that raises funds for Ronald McDonald House. This year participants will cycle 519 km, calling in at various towns along the Pacific Highway enroute to both raise funds and awareness of Ronald McDonald House and its programmes. Rhiannon Curtis from Ronald McDonald Family Retreat, Forster, and Craig Evans, Licensee of McDonald’s Taree tell us more about this event…
Rhiannon Curtis- Ronald McDonald Family Retreat
What is the Ride for Sick Kids?
Ride for Sick Kids is an initiative of Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW that has been taken up by several other Ronald McDonald House chapters right around Australia. The first Ride for Sick Kids was in 2005, not missing one year since. Each year the ride is alternated between the Pacific Highway and The New England Highway. Along the way, the riders stop in at primary schools to spread the message of bike safety, as well as giving two lucky students at each school a brand new bicycle! During these visits the riders and children also talk about Ronald McDonald House and how we help families with sick and injured children from their area.
When will the ride take place this year?
Ride for Sick Kids will take a coastal route this year. Starting at Grafton on Monday 5th September, the riders will make their way to Ronald McDonald House, Newcastle on Saturday 10th September. That’s 519 km! They will make stops at Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Forster and Salamander Bay. The group of riders are not professional athletes; they are all regular people from a number of different fields.
The Executive Officer of Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW, Ross Bingham, is one of the founding riders and hasn’t missed one ride. We have lots of local support for the Ride and will have a local rider this year, Craig Evans, Taree McDonald’s Licensee.
How will the ride benefit those in our larger community?
In 2015, over 680 Manning-Great Lakes families were supported at one or more Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW programmes. We provide a home away from home through accommodation at John Hunter Children’s Hospital for those families with a child admitted to hospital, meaning that families are kept close during trying and stressful times. Within the hospital we have our Ronald McDonald Family Room, which provides families with a welcoming and homely space to come together to have a chat, grab a cuppa, do some laundry, have a sleep or just take some time out from being on the ward. Their children can play, watch TV and have some time away from the surrounds of the hospital ward and have the opportunity to just be a kid.
For those families needing some support after a stay in hospital, families can take a holiday at a Family Retreat, one of which is located right here in the Manning-Great Lakes in Forster. Families can take up to seven nights at no cost in a fully self-contained unit.
For children who have fallen behind at school because of multiple absences due to illness, we have the Ronald McDonald Learning Programme, which provides one on one tutoring for up to twelve months. The funds raised on the Ride will go directly to all of these programmes.
What’s the aim of the ride this year?
The aim of the Ride this year is to raise $200,000 and raise awareness about the services we provide regional families. Since Ride for Sick Kids began in 2005, over $2.3 million has been raised to go towards supporting families with a sick or injured child.
Where can people find out more info and or/donate to the cause?
We are holding the Ride for Sick Kids Family Fun Night at Forster Entertainment Centre on Thursday 8th September. Tickets are $30 each for a fun night of ten pin, putt, putt, laser skirmish, with dinner and drinks included. We will also run some raffles and have some added fun of face painting and a photo booth. We encourage everyone to jump on Facebook to follow and donate to the Ride at https://www.facebook.com/RideForSickKidsNNSW or you can get in touch with us at 0428 301 088 to find out how you can support the riders or our Family Fun Night.
Craig evans – McDonald’s Taree
Hi Craig. Tell us a bit about yourself …
I’m the McDonald’s Franchisee for Taree and Taree Service Centre. I have lived in the Manning for nearly all my life. My family moved back to the area when I was eight years old; I grew up on a farm at Kolodong half way between Taree and Wingham.
You’ll be taking part in the Ride for Sick Kids in September. What prompted you to take part?
I’ve been involved with the ride since 2008. Having worked for McDonald’s since I was 16, I have a long association with Ronald McDonald House Charities and have always been actively involved with fundraising for the charity and also the establishment of the Family Retreat in Forster.
There are a lot of local families who have utilised either the house at Newcastle, Westmead or Randwick and like any charity, these rely on fundraising to keep their programmes going.
The ride enables us to spread the word about the charity and its programmes through local communities from Grafton to Newcastle and fundraise along the way.
519 km over six days is a mammoth effort. What training have you been doing in the lead up to the ride?
I’d like to say that I am an avid cyclist and I train every day, but that would definitely be a lie! Saying that, my training has been a little more intense than past years. I’ve been completing a Medafit class and a spin class per week and also walking 5 km per day and riding about 100 km per week.
What are you most looking forward to about the event … and what do you hope you’ll achieve?
The comradery amongst the riders is great and there is definitely plenty of banter travelling along the Pacific Highway, but the most gratifying thing is meeting families who have benefited from Ronald McDonald House at the nightly events held in each town. We have a goal of raising $200,000 again this year, which comes from donations by the public, and all McDonald’s Restaurants on the Mid North Coast and in Newcastle will be donating 50 cents from every tall McCafe Coffee sold during September – which has the potential to raise over $100,000 alone.
How can Focus readers assist you?
Focus readers can go online and make a donation at https://everydayhero.com.au/event/rideforsickkids2016 or they can attend the local event that is being held on September 8 at Forster Entertainment Centre. It should be a great night for families, which includes dinner, two drinks plus entry into Putt Putt Golf, Ten Pin Bowling and Laser Tag for $30 per person. There will be raffles and a silent auction on the night, with all profits going to the cause. Tickets can be purchased from Forster Bowling Club.