Thinking big about memory murder

January 03, 2018

A team of Cobram identities with big plans is targeting one of Australia’s biggest killers.

The impact of Alzheimer’s disease is consistently felt but rarely generates the same sort of publicity as other major diseases such as cancer and heart failure.

Alzheimer’s, and more broadly dementia, are often slow, methodical killers. Once-familiar faces can suddenly become unrecognisable in the depths of the diseases’ clutches. The average lifespan once diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is seven to 10 years — there is no cure.

Aiming to make a difference to the insidious finality of this cruel disease are Raymond Jarratt, Bernie Gillespie, Bruce Von-Lindhe, Gifford Grosswaithe and Wayde Foster.

The men were wondering what they could do to help the cause when Mr Jarratt suggested they go on an adventure and ride their bikes a mammoth 4000km from Perth to Merimbula, NSW.

For Mr Foster and Mr Gillespie, their connection to the disease is deeply personal.

Mr Foster’s father has Alzheimer’s, while Mr Gillespie’s mother-in-law suffers from dementia.

Mr Foster said the opportunity to contribute money to research was the driving factor behind the group’s radical plan.

‘‘It’s one of the biggest killers and not something that gets spoken about publicly very often, so we thought the ride would be a nice way to try and raise some money for research,’’ he said.

‘‘You often hear a lot about cancer research getting a lot of funding, which is obviously a great cause, but we thought we’d pick a disease that is a little bit different and something that is close to home.’’

The group will start the journey next month and aims to complete it in about three weeks.

Because of the length and physical demands of the trek, the men, who have named themselves Wild Hogs in Lycra, will need the assistance of a support vehicle and they are still searching for a person to drive the motor home.

The driver is required from the start of February and if unable to do the whole trip needs to be able to do at least two weeks, which will get the group near Adelaide.

Anyone interested in the role should phone Mr Jarratt on 0408 329 838, Mr Gillespie on 0458 555 387 or reply on Facebook.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of Australians dying from dementia has been rising dramatically since 2011.

It is now the leading cause of death for women, with 8447 succumbing to the disease in 2016.

The group is aiming to raise about $10,000.

It has set up a GoFundraise page, as well as a Facebook page under the name Wild Hogs in Lycra.

It has already received generous donations from the public, including $1000 from Tocumwal Golf Club, a further $1000 from Barooga Sporties and $500 from Cobram Panel Works.

â– Anyone wanting to donate to the fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can go to the group’s Facebook or GoFundraise pages.

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