Sydney 2 CAMberra supports work of Stillbirth Foundation and Red Nose Australia

Geared up: Lee Heslehurst, Graham Belfield and Gavan Gordon ahead of a major charity ride to support families who have experienced child loss through stillbirth and SIDS-related causes. Picture: Chris Lane
Geared up: Lee Heslehurst, Graham Belfield and Gavan Gordon ahead of a major charity ride to support families who have experienced child loss through stillbirth and SIDS-related causes. Picture: Chris Lane

The wheels are turning in support of a cause close to many hearts this month.

These cyclists are part of the Sydney 2 CAMberra event, which raises money to Stillbirth Foundation and Red Nose Australia (formerly SIDS and Kids).

The cause assists families and friends who have been touched by child loss. 

The event also aims to help men discuss personal tragedy, and encourage other males to talk openly about the loss they experience alongside their partners.

Both organisations offer services for grieving families Australia-wide, and provide much-needed medical research, advocacy and counselling.

Sydney 2 CAMberra started in Sutherland Shire, and has been pedalling successfully for the past eight years as a registered charity. 

It was established by resident Lee Heslehurst, whose former Menai High School friends Graham and Nadine Belfield lost their first son Cameron to stillbirth in 2011.

Riding together: Charity ride founder Lee Heslehurst (second from left) with Graham (far left) and Nadine Belfield (far right).

Riding together: Charity ride founder Lee Heslehurst (second from left) with Graham (far left) and Nadine Belfield (far right).

Mr Heslehurst and some of his other school friends wanted to help the family overcome the grief. So they came up with the idea of riding their bikes to Canberra. They cycle a gruelling 300 kilometres across two days. 

From 41 riders in 2012 to 100 riders, the charity has raised more than $1.2 million.

This year, they grip into gear on April 12, with the goal of raising $300,000. Already a solid amount of more than $80,000 has been raised.

On Sunday, riders from St George and Sutherland Shire were presented with their official riding gear at Club Central, Menai.

World champion triathlete Craig Alexander is also one the ambassadors this year.

Six children are stillborn every day in Australia.

"After losing our son, the Sydney2CAMberra ride provided us with an event that we could organise in his memory and gave us something positive to focus on," the Belfields said. 

"It provides bereaved parents with the opportunity to do something in honour of their child.

"The support for the ride to date has been overwhelming and we are looking forward to putting on another great ride."

Fellow shire riders Lucas Mara and Ryan Ellmoos are also taking part.

"As a father who lost a child it's about riding and spending time with the child you lost, and feeling closer to the ones you lost," Mr Mara, of Loftus, said.

"It helps build up resilience in myself and others, talking about your loss helps me to talk about my son Aidan. This is our way of keeping our children alive in our hearts and minds. This ride builds the support network in the community."

Mr Ellmoos, of Kirrawee, will cycle in memory of his son Blake. 

"The ride is a great community of like-minded people who are there to offer support and help to other families who are going through the same sorrow," he said.

Team effort: Riders from Loftus support the event.

Team effort: Riders from Loftus support the event.

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