Despite the skies opening up, it did little to taint the success of this year’s Rise Above Cancer Convoy, which raised over $120,000 for a very worthy cause.
Just over 300 trucks and around 80 motorbikes banded together for the recent event, travelling from Beard to Exhibition Park in Canberra.
It’s the key fundraiser for Rise Above Capital Region Cancer Relief, an important charity that financially supports cancer patients and their families.
“While other charities do the research, we focus on the grassroots,” explained Melissa Gardiner, CEO of Rise Above.
“We pay for things like chemo, medication, provide food and fuel vouchers, and help pay for electricity and gas for cancer patients.
“The money goes directly to the people we say we’re going to help and it stays local too, covering the ACT and its surrounds. The truckies are our bread and butter, without them we wouldn’t be able to do most of what we do.
“Last year the convoy was held in February, so we made it just before Covid. We usually have it on the first weekend in February but we had so much trouble getting an exemption – it only came through just after Christmas.
“We are down from what we raised last year but that’s to be expected and we are still stoked with the outcome. We couldn’t have our fair, that was cancelled – we usually take donations and have rides and everything, so it was just the truckies and the bikes entering.”
The Lead Truck went to the Elvin Group, which has held that title for the past three years, while Lead Bike was Nick Rivers, who understands the important work of Rise Above firsthand.
Nick tragically lost his wife Natalie Rivers to cancer just months ago. “He was so honoured to ride on behalf of his wife Natalie. That’s what it’s all about,” added Gardiner.
He and Natalie used to take their two sons, Rhys, 13, and Aiden, 11, to see the convoy.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been in it and I plan on making it an annual event. Rise Above have given us so much support and I think it was really important to not only participate for Natalie, but to also raise awareness by putting our story out there,” he said.
Rhys and Aiden got to take part too. Rhys was offered a seat in the lead truck and Aiden travelled with his uncle, who is a truckie.
Nick only got his motorbike licence about six weeks before the convoy. He took a learner course on February 28 and bought himself a bike just over a week later.
“I had only been riding for about six weeks. Being there was a really big buzz to be honest, the fact that everybody showed up to show their support gave me a huge buzz. There’s been a lot of unexpected publicity for the convoy and I think every bit of that helps in raising awareness and getting the message out there,” Nick said.
“Rise Above is such an important organisation and I don’t think people know how much it actually helps until they are in that situation. Rise Above is the only organisation that I know of that gives the money directly to the people.”