From Tragedy to Triumph: Epic 6,850km Ride Across Australia Shatters Records and Raises $200,000
After an extraordinary 6,850km solo mountain bike odyssey, christened “The Spine Tingling Ride,” spanning the width of Australia from its westernmost to easternmost points and finishing at his parents home in Canberra, Andrew Kerec’s remarkable journey has come to a heart-warming and inspiring close.
On the final ride day which included an emotional and symbolic ride down the runway at Canberra Airport, Andrew reflected on the Spine Tingling Ride Teams monumental achievement. Surrounded by his family, friends and supporters including the man who inspired it all, his father Ludvig, who became a quadriplegic due to a spinal cord injury, this final leg was a testament to the incredible power of family and determination and what can be achieved with individual effort backed by community support. Ludvig completed the last couple of kilometres of the ride in his powered wheelchair alongside Andrew and his brother Malcolm.
“Spinal cord injury is something very close and personal to me, my family, and friends because of dad,” Andrew shared with heartfelt emotion. His father’s life-changing accident, resulting from a collision with another cyclist during Ironman training, transformed their world in an instant.
But this journey was about much more than Andrew’s personal triumph. It was a mission to raise awareness and funds for people with disabilities and spinal cord injury cure-related medical research. And in that regard, Andrew has exceeded all expectations. The Spine Tingling Ride has raised over $200,000 and pledges are still coming in.
These funds will make a significant impact, with half of them going to SpinalCure Australia, specifically Project Spark, a series of neurostimulation clinical trials that offer hope for spinal cord injury patients. The other half will go to Hartley Lifecare, an organisation dedicated to supporting people with complex disabilities to live their best lives.
“As I pedalled through some of the most remote parts of our beautiful country, facing the harshest conditions including 1200 sand dunes within the Simpson Desert and even outrunning a pack of wild dingoes, my motivation stemmed from the perspective my parents have given me,” Andrew reflected. “Whenever things got tough, I thought about them and what they endure daily. Not just them, but any one of the 20,000 people with a spinal cord injury or hundreds of thousands of people living with a profound or severe disability in Australia and I thought …. this is not hard by comparison… keep pedalling …. Keep plugging away”
Andrew’s determination has been awe-inspiring and included an historic achievement – setting a new official record for a westernmost to easternmost solo bike crossing of Australia. Covering nearly 5,500 kilometres in a mere 61 days, 2 hours, and 40 minutes – this remarkable feat cut an astonishing 22 days off the previous record.
Kathryn Borkovic, CEO of SpinalCure Australia, says “When I asked Andrew if he ever considered giving up, he expressed an unyielding determination. This resonates deeply with SpinalCure because we intimately understand the profound impact of spinal cord injuries, whether through personal experience or the experiences of our loved ones. We, too, possess an unwavering commitment to challenging the existing norms and steadfastly pursuing our goals. Andrew’s extraordinary journey not only shattered records but also ignited awareness and garnered support for Project Spark, a series of neurostimulation clinical trials in progress in Australia, funded by SpinalCure.”
Neurostimulation represents the most promising experimental therapy for spinal cord injuries, offering hope that treatment can transition from the laboratory to the lives of those affected by spinal injuries. These trials are a critical step towards making this groundbreaking therapy a reality.
Eric Thauvette, CEO of Hartley Lifecare, extends his heartfelt gratitude to Andrew for his unwavering support. “Andrew, his family, and friends have supported Hartley Lifecare in various ways for over ten years. The funds raised will empower Hartley Lifecare to help people with disabilities live their best lives.”
Andrew’s journey, more than just a bike ride, is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of individuals coming together to make a difference. As he celebrates his remarkable achievements, let us join him in celebrating the hope he has kindled for countless individuals living with spinal cord injuries.