The Ocean to Outback riders who were raising money for Cobar Hospital passed through Cobar last Tuesday and were greeted by a large crowd of supporters in Drummond Park.
Twenty years ago members of the group had ridden from Bathurst to Broken Hill to raise money for Ronald McDonald house and along the way they met families who were struggling after their children were diagnosed with cancer.
One of those families was the Mahy family from Cobar, whose daughter Kelly was suffering from cancer.
Businessman Andrew O’Shea, who rode with the group 20 years ago, organised this year’s reunion ride and said Kelly and her family had made a big impression on the riders.
He said they were riding this year in Kelly’s memory (she passed away 16 years ago from cancer) with the aim of raising $20,000 for Cobar Hospital.
The group of seven riders and their support crew set out from Shellharbour on September 22 and arrived at their finishing destination of Tilpa last Wednesday.
They were greeted with a barbecue and welcome party put on by the Cobar Youth Council in Drummond Park last Tuesday afternoon.
Mr O’Shea reported that the ride was a lot tougher than it was 20 years ago.
“Surprisingly the first and the last day were the toughest, the last day being the 180kms out to Tilpa,” Mr O’Shea said.
He said western towns had great community spirit and had made them feel very welcome.
“The further west we travelled, the better feedback we received.
“On the ride we raised $29,322 and then raffle tickets and further fundraising afterward pushed us over $30,000,” Mr O’Shea reported.
He said 100 per cent of the money has been donated to Cobar Hospital.
Cobar Hospital’s Health Service Manager, Mary Urquhart, said it was a “very courageous” ride by the group.
“I am very humbled that Mr O’Shea thought of Cobar Hospital. What he said about metropolitan hospitals fixing people up but country hospitals being the first point of call, is very true. Mr O’Shea is a country boy himself, who now lives in a metropolitan area and realises how tough we have it out here,” Mrs Urquhart said.
Bonnie Buckman, Kelly Mahy’s sister, said her family was overwhelmed that the group chose to comple the ride in memory of Kelly.
“To think people want to know who Kelly is, even the youth of Cobar, is overwhelming,” Mrs Buckman said.
Mrs Buckman’s son Chad rode 50km with the group from the Florida Rest Stop into Cobar.
After consultations with the family, Mrs Urquhart said half of the donation would be spent on equipment and the other half would go towards a garden at the new hospital.