Firies pedal to aid burn victims
LOCKYER Valley firefighter Gary McKay is sneaking in as much training as he can ahead of what promises to be a torturous cycling marathon.
The 55-year-old might suffer from wonky knees as a result of his footy-playing days, but a renewed interest in bike riding has ensured he stays active enough to take part in the upcoming Bike for Burns charity ride.
Mr McKay, who is stationed at Mt Ommaney but lives at Laidley, will be one of 45 firies to cycle a gruelling 890km through harsh and hilly terrain in northern NSW and Queensland from May 15 to 22.
The annual ride - now in its sixth year - aims to raise money for the Royal Children's Hospital Burns Unit.
"I got into riding as a way of keeping fit," Mr McKay said.
"I'm getting a bit long in the tooth and I can't run anymore because of my knees.
"It will be a personal challenge for me and it goes a long way to helping kids."
Cycling firefighters will depart Southport fire station on May 15, riding south of the border through Murwillumbah and Kyogle, before aiming north for the border towns of Killarney, Stanthorpe and Texas, before heading back east through Millmerran and Gatton.
The ride finishes at the Royal Children's Hospital on May 22.
The Bike 4 Burns ride is an initiative of the QFRS Wellness Program and has raised more than $185,000 for burns research at the Royal Children's Hospital.
This year, riders have set an ambitious target to raise in excess of $50,000.
QFRS Acting Inspector Gordon Hemphrey said donations contributed to important projects like finding treatments to prevent scarring on young children who are victims of serious burns.
"We're hopeful that funding quality research today will produce the breakthroughs needed to ensure ongoing improvements in preventing and treating burns victims," he said.
Anyone willing to support Mr McKay can visit the Royal Children's Hospital website at workingwonders.com.au.
Members of the public can follow the riders while they're on the road by visiting facebook.com/bike4burns.