By Matt Male
TWO Inverloch residents are on a mission to fundraise $6000 to assist people with spinal cord injuries.
Colin Boyd and Cameron Wright will travel interstate next month to ride 360kms for the Neil Sachse Centre for Spinal Cord Research.
The centre was founded by former Footscray Football Club (Western Bulldogs) player Neil Sachse, who became a quadriplegic after an on-field collision in his second game for the Doggies in 1975.
It strikes close to the hearts of Colin and Cameron, both former Footscray players.
Colin has seen the impacts a spinal cord injury can have on someone, such as Phillip Island Football Club coach and former Leongatha coach, Beau Vernon.
“I hope to raise awareness on behalf of those local people who have been affected,” Colin said at his Inverloch home last week.
“And to show them that this community is supporting them and hopefully through technology, creating possibilities for improvement for their futures, and better treatment.”
The money will help the centre to fund a research program to better diagnose the extent of spinal cord injuries.
Colin, a former Leongatha Secondary College teacher and principal, said a spinal cord injury can be a life-changing experience.
“The first local one that I came across was Michael Norton, a Leongatha local who was a paraplegic. He won gold in the Winter Olympics for Australia,” said Colin.
“There was also Robert Rose, another guy at Footscray, who became a quadriplegic from a car crash in 1974, and passed away in 1999.
“There are many young people out there who are active and involved in sport, and then they cop this sort of injury,” the father-of-three said.
“These guys are bright, energetic and active people, and I feel like I want to support them.”
The Western Bulldogs Past Players Association has tipped in $1500 each for Colin and Cameron.
The fundraising efforts by the two Inverloch identities, alongside 18 other cyclists, will help to improve prognosis and treatment for people with spinal cord injuries through the Neil Sachse Centre for Spinal Cord Research.
Neil was 24-years-old when he became a quadriplegic.
“But things haven’t changed much in the spinal cord injury area since Neil was injured 43 years ago,” Colin said.
“The initial diagnostic tool is using a pin to prick a patient’s legs and feet to see if they can feel anything. That hasn’t changed for a long time.”
The two Inverloch residents were encouraged to ride in the event by the Western Bulldogs.
“They were keen to have some club representation to show support for Neil.”
Colin’s no stranger to cycling, often getting up before sunrise to ride with the Inverloch Coastal Crewzers group of cyclists.
In 2014, Colin clocked up 12,500kms on his bike riding from Shanghai to Istanbul – and has also cycled from Peth to Bairnsdale, and around Tasmania.
“It’s not just the physical benefits, but the social aspect of riding. I do enjoy riding. It helped fill the vacuum after the footy years,” said Colin.
The fundraiser involves each cyclist riding around 120kms a day, starting and finishing in Adelaide. It kicks off on November 26.
To donate, go to www.mycause.com.au/page/187945/col-boyd for Colin or www.mycause.com.au/page/187957/cameron-wright for Cameron.