Nurse gears up in push to find cancer cure
Springfield Mater hospital nurse unit manager Joe Gabriel thinks nothing of heading off to Brisbane for an early morning bike ride, which is just as well because he'll soon be heading off from Townsville, on a 1600km epic fundraiser.
The Springfield Lakes dad, 36, says he is "pretty much addicted to riding".
"I like the early morning rides, I work shift work and it gets your exercise done for the day and I've been known to get up at 3am when it's quiet.
"I cycle about 200-250km a week."
Next week, Mr Gabriel and Mater melanoma research fellow Professor Brian Gabrielli will join a contingent of 42 pedal pushers and road crew in the 14th annual Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge, cycling from Townsville to Brisbane.
Mr Gabriel was farewelled for his journey at a barbecue at the Mater Springfield.
This year the riders will head south, via Charters Towers, but last year the challenge went from Brisbane to Townsville, with a spectacular kick-off in Springfield.
"I have lost several relatives to cancer over the years, an uncle and two aunts, and I also work very closely with people who are impacted by cancer," he said.
"I thought this was one way I could show them my support and raise funds for vital research in this area."
His wife Kelly and daughter Charlotte, 8, will see him off from Townsville and then return home to be at the finish line on Aug 31.
The annual event raises considerable sums for research into melanoma and other cancers in memory of melanoma patient and cycling fan Adam Smiddy who died in 2006 of aggressive melanoma.
Mr Gabriel has about $4000 in the can so far and hopes to top it up to $6000 by the end of the event.
Each of the riders is encouraged to raise $5000 to join up and a final figure of $350,000 is being targeted this year, with generous donations usually made in regional centres along the way as the cyclists progress through the nine-day ride.
Smiling for Smiddy was founded by Mark ''Sharky'' Smoothy, to honour his friend Adam Smiddy.
"Smiddy riders are like a family and together we ride in memory of our mate Adam and for all people touched by cancer, now and in the future," Mr Gabriel said.
"I am looking forward to connecting with communities along the way. When we pass through some of these towns we will be stopping off at schools to educate children on being sun-smart as we always believe prevention is better than cure."
Since 2006, Smiling for Smiddy has raised nearly $10 million for world-class research projects at Mater Research in areas of melanoma, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers.
To find out more or donate visit https://mater.li/SmilingforSmiddy