Bright and early on Saturday morning, I will be farewelling a group of local cyclists as they embark on a 780-kilometre Cairns to Karumba bike ride adventure.
This is no ordinary bike ride; it is over seven days. The team traverse some incredibly challenging country, riding between 78 and 151 kilometres a day to raise money for bush kids.
This is also no ordinary team. The seven riders are all members of the Junction Clubhouse, a wonderful facility in Cairns that helps people transition from acute mental health care back into active, contributing members of our community. It is known as the Changing Lives Project, and it has been just amazing to see how far these participants have come in such a short time.
When they started training in November last year, let me assure you that some of them could not even ride 50 metres, but now they are successfully finishing training rides from Cairns to the Tablelands or to Port Douglas, distances of more than 120 kilometres return.
During this time, the riders' physical health and fitness has improved, along with their mental wellbeing and endurance. Every ride they complete boosts their willpower, their feeling of a sense of achievement and their team spirit.
It certainly has not been easy. The project embarked on a significant fundraising drive, and it was only a matter of a few weeks ago that funding came from the Inspire Clubhouse in Townsville, enabling the group to officially register for the C2K Ride.
The C2K organisation itself has been incredibly supportive of the Junction riders taking part. Queensland Country Credit Union also made a significant contribution. I would also like to thank all of those other people and groups that have helped the team along the way.
The project has also had POM Productions filming their journey for a docudrama. Unfortunately, the videographer has fallen ill at the eleventh hour and will not be able to film the C2K Ride itself, so would anybody able to help please contact my office. It will be a great opportunity for a local videographer to follow this inspirational group and see our amazing outback, with transport, meals and accommodation provided.
So this Saturday I would like to wish Esther Ritchie, David Giordano, Jacqui Mansfield, Stephen Metcalf, Suzanne Peterkin, Tage Muller and Joe Mangano all the very best for the journey ahead.
If the long stretches and gruelling hills feel like they are too much, just remember that you have battled to overcome mental illness, and that shows even greater determination and strength. Also I would like to thank their support crews who will be travelling alongside. I certainly look forward to seeing you when you return, seeing how you go and celebrating your success.