The words “How’s Kenny going?” may sound like a typical question a mate would ask another mate after work one day, but that ordinary conversation led to 14 cyclists setting out on the most extraordinary feat of their lives on September 3.
CAPTION: The Round for Life 2022 cyclists begin their 2300km fundraising journey from Picnic Point in Toowoomba. Story by Captain Evita Ryan. Photo by WO2 Kim Allen.
Twelve years after the first Round for Life was organised by Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) Ken Leggett while he was recovering from his first bout of cancer, the idea of a second Round for Life was born.
“Kenny is one of my best mates and we’re both into cycling,” WO2 Andrew Gillies said. “One day after work Chris [Warrant Officer Class One Chris Pleszkun] asked me if I knew how Kenny was going with his cancer treatment.
“Kenny and I organised Round for Life 2010 to raise funds for cancer research and treatment, and Chris, who is also a cyclist, asked me if I wanted to help organise another Round for Life to raise funds in honour and support of Kenny.”
After months of planning Round for Life 2022, 14 cyclists from 7th Signal Regiment and the Defence Force School of Signals – Electronic Warfare Wing at Borneo Barracks are riding 2300km to raise funds for brain cancer research.
The ride will take them from Toowoomba to Melbourne, where WO2 Ken Leggett is battling his second bout of cancer.
“Cancer is deep in my brain and I can’t get it out but I’m beating it and, at some point, researchers will find a cure,” WO2 Leggett said.
“That cure might be years or decades away yet but raising funds for research will benefit the kids of the future.”
Over 18 days, the cyclists will pedal through dozens of regional communities, stopping for a day of rest and recovery in Canberra before arriving in Melbourne on September 22.
Meanwhile, despite undergoing treatment for brain cancer, WO2 Leggett is at home on his training bike in Melbourne, preparing to join the peloton for the last few kilometres to Simpson Barracks.
“We told Kenny that the best thing he could do to support us was to get on his trainer and train so he can meet up with us and help us ride through the entrance to the barracks,” WO2 Gillies said.
“It’s amazing stuff, what they’re doing,” WO2 Leggett said. “If I can’t ride on the day, I’ll get in the car and shout words of encouragement.
“Initially, after my second brain surgery, I couldn’t talk at all and it was hard for me because a lot of my mates are posted to Borneo Barracks in Queensland.
“Being able to talk to my mates is so important for my recovery.
“I’ve been very lucky to have the support of a great family in my wife and three sons, but I also have a second family, and that’s my Army mates.
“They’ve always looked after me and helped me out, and I’m getting better and better all the time.”
Round for Life 2022 aims to raise $100,000 for the Cure for Brain Cancer Foundation.
“We’re a long way from our desired goal of 100K but we’re getting there and any support will be much appreciated,” WO2 Gillies said.
All donations are paid direct to the foundation and online donations can be made via https://curebraincancer.grassrootz.com/round-for-life-2022