Riding a bike is an activity many of us forgo as we age, McLaren Vale local Jillian Smith on the other hand recently picked up a bike to ride it across Cambodia, all for a cause close to her heart.
After losing her ‘soulmate’ Anthony to brain cancer in May 2017, Jillian Smith decided the best way for her to move on would be to put her grief towards something constructive and memorable, finding this ‘something’ came in the way of the Flinders Foundation and a fundraising bike ride across Cambodia.
With a group of 11 riders and a support truck helping with mishaps, ensuring all the riders stayed healthy over the course of six days, Jill and her riding partners managed to cover 336 kilometres, with their longest distance in a day being 80 kilometres on day two.
Throughout the trip each member was able to take the time to experience Cambodia, all that made it special and the ways in which it was different from home in Australia.
For Jill this involved carrying a portion of Anthony’s ashes and scattering them in several locations, as Anthony had been a man who loved Asia and all it had to offer.
Jill said it was each of these moments which were significant in their own way to me and for people who are considering doing something similar, they should just do it.
“Turn grief into something positive, you owe it to your loved ones to do something with your life as well as doing something for yourself” she said.
Her final location aboard a boat in the Gulf of Thailand gave Jill the opportunity to release a small portion of Anthony’s ashes into the green seas in the presence of Buddhist monks, a fitting end to a gruelling trial, not only the ride but also the emotional and physical battle which cancer represents.
With the trip now over, Jill successfully raised $9,354 on her own of what was originally a $3,500 goal.
Jill said without the help of local winemakers and wineries who raised money and supplied wine to be auctioned off, she would not have been able to raise the amount she did.
Jill’s contribution combined with the other team members collections lead to the group raising over $56,000 all of which will be donated to the Flinders Foundation, the official charity of the Flinders Medical Centre.
Set up in 1976, the Flinders Medical Centre receives around 30,000 visitors each year for whom they provide treatment and care while also acting as a research facility aiming to help find better interventions, preventions and treatments for a range of cancers among other initiatives.