Yeppoon cyclist pedals 450km in battle against autism
From The Capricorn Coast Mirror
YEPPOON cyclist Errol Hodges says it costs about $60,000 a year to look after a child with severe autism and provide the support needed to care for them.
Not all are severe cases but it can be an expensive business for many people, especially when autism affects roughly one in every 100 children born each year.
That's why Mr Hodges was quick to sign up for the ACE "Gran Fondo", a four-day charity cycle ride from Noosa to Byron Bay, NSW, which will raise funds to tackle the disease.
But the need to raise funds is not the only motivator for Mr Hodges to take part.
"I am participating in the ride because it affects my partner's family. Her son and grandson are both afflicted with autism," he said.
"The moment news of the Gran Fondo was published on the Cycling Queensland website, I said: 'That's it, I'm doing it'."
He said 19 riders so far had pledged to take part in the Gran Fondo - which starts on August 16 - and each is committed to raise a minimum of $1500.
Proceeds from the ride will go to the Autism Centre of Excellence (ACE) at Queensland's Griffith University.
Mr Hodges hopes the severity of the problem will encourage people to offer their support and help him raise considerably more than the minimum.
He said there was also a special need to provide support for autistic children in the 5-18 years age bracket.
"In particular, they need assistance with those transition years from home to school and then school to work, assistance that will help them live in the real world," he said.
"Money raised will provide, implement and develop training programs for teachers, carers and parents to help children in those transition years."
The ride will present its own challenges, as there are more than a few hills on a route that takes the riders from Noosa up to Maleny, down to Brisbane and Gold Coast and on into New South Wales.
But it's not a race and Mr Hodges, who has 25 years of experience as rider and racer, said his normal training routine of 30-40km a day and more at weekends should see him through.
Neither is it his first long ride for charity; in 2010, he rode well over 1000km in 10 days as part of the BCI "Ride West" to Longreach for the RFDS.
Mr Hodges is appealing to Capricorn Coast residents to help fight autism by donating to his ACE Gran Fondo ride.
"If people look up ACE Gran Fondo on Google and follow the links, they will find out more about the ride and how to give monies or become sponsors," he said.