A DEDICATED group of motorcyclists is making their way to Cairns and enjoyed a visit to our region at the weekend.
The Long Ride is raising money for, and awareness of, prostate cancer.
Joining the group was Vice Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Mark Binskin, who rode with them until they reached St George on Sunday.
The ride was organised by Chris Dunne, who is an ex-RAAF serviceman.
Air Marshal Binskin said he got involved in 2008, when he read about the event in a motorcycle magazine and gathered a few air force mates together.
“I thought it was for a good cause with prostate cancer and a good chance to get out and about,” he said.
“This is the fourth one I’ve been on. This time, being Vice Chief of Defence Force, I thought we could co-ordinate it a bit more, with more defence force personnel.
“It’s been a fantastic.
“With army, navy, air force and Australian public service people, there are 120 riders from around Australia registered. All up there are 350 registered riders.
“Throughout the Australian Defence Force they’ve raised $70,000 on this ride, and in total, with the other fundraising, the ride has raised $120,000 for prostate cancer.”
Air Marshal Binskin said people everywhere wanted to donate for the good cause.
“We come through the country towns. We stopped for petrol in Moree and an older fellow asked us what we’re doing. When we told him, he thought, ‘That’s a good cause’, and gave us a $5 donation,” he said.
“It’s really neat to get that reaction as you go around and talk to people.”
The plight of those diagnosed with prostate cancer is not a good one, with more than 20,000 men diagnosed and about 3500 dying from the disease each year.
Air Marshal Binskin said the cancer’s mortality rate was higher by about 20 per cent in regional and rural areas than in the cities, and when they told this to men who were with their wives, the wives would poke their husbands in the ribs and say “I told you so”.
“The blokes don’t like talking about blokes and bloke problems,” he said.
“It’s a good education tool. Our aim is for early detection and to get the death rate down. More men die of prostate cancer each year than women who die of breast cancer each year, but they’ve been able to get the message out about breast cancer, so we’d like to learn off that and do the same for prostate cancer. A number of very close friends and people I’ve worked with over the years have had prostate cancer.”
Money raised from The Long Ride goes to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, which helps with education, early detection and research.