Ray Colbert will be riding from Toowoomba to Brisbane, via Gatton and Ipswich, on his motorised wheelchair to raise awareness of the dangers of inhaling asbestos.
Ray Colbert will be riding from Toowoomba to Brisbane, via Gatton and Ipswich, on his motorised wheelchair to raise awareness of the dangers of inhaling asbestos. Claudia Baxter

Ray's giant wheelchair journey

RAY Colbert knows sooner or later he will lose his battle with asbestosis, but before that day comes he is determined to raise awareness of the deadly disease.

The 65-year-old, who relies on oxygen 24-hours-a-day, will drive his motorised wheelchair from Toowoomba to Brisbane later this month to bring attention to the plight of sufferers and raise money for medical research.

The journey will take Mr Colbert through the flood-affected Ipswich and Lockyer Valley regions during International Asbestos Awareness Week.

"I chose this route because one thing highlighted by the floods in this area was how much asbestos was brought out into the open," Mr Colbert said.

"People need to be aware that it is not safe to handle it and it needs to be cleaned up by council or skilled contractors.

Mesothelioma and asbestosis are the two most common asbestos related diseases and at present no cure is available for either illness.

Mr Colbert said asbestos related diseases develop slowly, sometimes over decades.

"I served in the engine rooms of the Royal Australian Navy aircraft carriers HMAS Melbourne and Sydney for nine years," Mr Colbert said.

"When the planes would land on the Melbourne it would shake and asbestos fibres would fall, just like snow coming down.

"If you were going to be contaminated with it (asbestos) that was a good place to get it."

During the event, nicknamed "Ray's Ride", Mr Colbert will be flanked by two support vehicles containing a wheelchair mechanic, safety marshal and paramedic.

Footpaths will be used instead of roads where possible to minimise disruption to traffic.

Ipswich people can support Ray by attending either the fundraising dinner or breakfast at Swifts Sports club on November 23 and 24 with all proceeds going to Asbestos research.

Visit Ray's website for further information.



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