Today’s Million Dollar Giving Day Ride Hosted by Brunswick and Hawthorn Cycling Clubs

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This morning our clubs were part of something important and special – the MDL Giving Day Ride.

The idea of a ride, on a virtual platform, organised by two Victorian clubs, to support the Children’s Cancer Foundation, in reality, only took a few emails and a phone call to make it come together. Almost 200 people from over ten countries participated in the ride and whilst we had a few challenges with keeping the large group together, it’s a relatively minor problem when considering the aim of the ride in the first place. Our aim was to support a Foundation that does important work and has been a direct contributor to the lives of not only members of our clubs but to our community. We are very proud that at the time of this release we have, so far, raised $5,000.

The Foundation Chairman, Jeremy Smith, is a Brunswick member and his two sons Linus and Ignatius are Hawthorn members. Linus is a cancer survivor – he is a healthy, ambitious, and a happy young man; we celebrate his life. Cancer comes in many forms and is non-discriminatory – also there is no vaccine against the disease which kills more children than any other in this country.

Perhaps it’s best to ask Jeremy to take it from here to explain the work of the Foundation and the challenges it faces in the COVID era.

“As mentioned, there is no vaccine against the disease which kills more children than any other in this country. 

So, in the six months since COVID-19 monopolised our attention, approximately 500 more Australian children have been diagnosed with childhood cancer. They will require complex diagnostic assessment, intensive treatment and if they survive, close observation for decades. 

Not to mention profound and abundant love.

Many of the cancers identified in these children are not well understood. Most are unique to people under the age of 18. All are uncommon and demand the most exacting clinical expertise. That expertise will be found almost exclusively in the public health system. Private health does not do childhood cancer. The dollars just don’t add up. But charities like the Children’s Cancer Foundation do play a role, and it is crucial. 

In recent years, the Foundation and its sister charity My Room have undertaken to fund projects in various hospitals and research institutes at a cost of approximately $16 million over five years. Those projects deliver excellence and love to children with cancer and their families. Excellence in the form of outstanding clinical research; love in the form of clinical care including art therapy, music therapy and family counselling.

The Foundation has a small paid team but relies heavily on its volunteer board, pro bono donors of in-kind services and benefactors small and large. However, above all, it relies on The Million Dollar Lunch. 

In 2019, this event grossed $2.1 million with costs of just $110,000. An extraordinary achievement, the product of untold generosity from hundreds of businesses and individuals. The Foundation’s income is supplemented from other sources, but for the last 15 years The Million Dollar Lunch has been responsible for the majority of its revenue. 

In 2020, The Million Dollar Lunch will not take place. Two million dollars will simply evaporate. But the Foundation’s commitments will not. Nor will the 1,000 children who will be diagnosed in 2020. 

There is only one way to overcome the crippling effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on Australian charities and the life-giving role they play in our society. Simply, it is through the generosity of so many Australians who will find a way to donate no matter their circumstances. 

And that is why the Foundation will endure until childhood cancer is eradicated.”

Our clubs were really pleased at how quickly the event came together, in under ten days from inception. The idea of supporting such a worthy cause really resonated with cycling organisations, club members, and the Zwift community. We would like to thank all those involved and give shout outs to:

  • All donors to the Brunswick and Hawthorn MDL Giving Day virtual table;
  • Wes Sulzberger and the Australian Zwift team for hosting the event at short notice and no cost;
  • Duncan Murray, Chairman of Cycling Australia and Craig Eastwood, General Manager of Cycling Victoria for promoting and participating in the event;
  • Matt Keenan for promoting and joining in the event;
  • Alex Katris who set up the Discord voice chat channel for the ride; and
  • Kate Cadet and the team at the Children’s Cancer Foundation.
  • The many professional cyclists such as Sarah Gigante who made time to join us
  • Our ride helpers Andrew Gannon and Ben Godkin

Donations can still be made at our clubs’ Million Dollar Lunch virtual table donation page; go here.

Best Regards

Ag Giramondo, President Brunswick Cycling Club and David Hendy, President Hawthorn Cycling Club.

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