REBUILDING HOPE FOR A CURE
A National Transport Insurance-sponsored restoration of a 1946 International K5 has helped raise funds for a motor neurone disease support and research funding group. Cobey Bartels writes
IN 1946 one particular International Model K5, with the famous ‘green diamond’ engine, arrived in kit from the United States and was assembled in Geelong.
Nobody could have predicted back then that the little K5 would be brought back to life spectacularly by National Transport Insurance (NTI) to raise money for motor neurone disease (MND) charity MND and Me.
The charity restoration was taken on after well-known former NTI CEO Wayne Patterson was sadly diagnosed with MND two years ago.
Wayne decided to raise awareness and live his life to the fullest while the disease continued to take hold, something that inspired his former employers to step in with the truck restoration and raise much-needed funds for MND and Me Foundation.
The NTI truck restoration saw the little Inter go from beaten-up barn find to immaculately restored collector’s item in just four months, raising $55,020 for the MND and Me Foundation after being raffled off.
The basis for the campaign, NTI CEO Tony Clark explains, was to help the man who helped create the positive culture that NTI has become known for.
“It’s all about Wayne Patterson … he took over NTI when it was really on its knees,” Tony says. “Wayne was able to rebuild this company from where it was and help it on its way to where it is today.
“Even though he’s been out of there for 10 years, he left such a legacy that when we asked our people whether they’d get behind MND and Me as a charity they said, ‘Yep, absolutely, that’ll be our main charity from now on,’ so we have to continue this with MND and Me.
“Wayne helped heal our organisation, we’d like to contribute to trying to find a healing pathway for motor neurone disease and this is part of that.”
One lucky winner was announced in Brisbane’s King George Square on Friday, September 15 when the Green Diamond, as it’s become affectionately known, was unveiled to the public and celebrated in the name of motor neurone disease awareness.
On the day, Trevor Fry from south Brisbane took the little Inter home and it couldn’t have gone to a more worthy winner, seeing as Trevor was involved in the beginnings of the MND and Me Foundation.
“It means the world actually, it’s not only me winning the truck, it’s MND and Me winning 55 grand. It’s a charity and a foundation that I’m very, very close to because it was founded by one of my workmates who was diagnosed with MND when he was 36 years old and passed away at 38.
“When he was diagnosed there was no support for motor neurone disease at all and he decided that he wanted to spend the rest of his days building a charity, so he did.
“Myself and two workmates were the first fundraisers for the charity. We shaved our beards off and raised 20 grand, which our employers matched that dollar for dollar.
“It’s the transport industry coming together as it does”
“It’s my charity of choice, so I bought a few tickets in this and it’s just fantastic.”
Trevor was blown away by the craftsmanship as he walked around his ’46 Inter, shocked that something a decade older than him could look brand new.
“I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with the truck but I’m certainly going to treasure it,” he says while sitting in the truck.
“I appreciate all the work that NTI and all the people involved have done. I mean, you look at the truck and it’s 10 years older than me yet it looks just beautiful.”
The two runners up on the day, Wayne Wust and Leoni Roberts, got a $200 BP fuel voucher each, which should keep them motoring well into the future. MND and Me works around the clock to raise awareness for MND, fighting to find a cure for the 2000 people currently affected in Australia, as well as preparing for those diagnosed in the future.
With an average life expectancy of just 27 months following diagnosis, this neurodegenerative disease takes hold quickly and the absence of a cure is something MND and Me is fighting to change.
MND and Me CEO Paul Olds says he’s impressed by how much awareness NTI was able to raise with this project, explaining that the money raised will be spent on important research.
“The truck has done two really big things: obviously it has raised good money for research, but the awareness it’s created about motor neurone disease in the community is just huge,” he says.
“MND is not a well-known disease so the more we can get its name out there and the more people understand it, the more difference we can make.
“It’s a massive amount raised, and it shows the community really got behind the project.
“We’re going to put that into research, into finding a cure.”
Wayne Patterson was in hospital on the day and sadly couldn’t attend the unveiling of the International, however his wife Lisa Patterson and her sister Maryanne Vaisnys were there to fly the flag for Wayne, who they say is immensely proud of everybody involved.
Lisa says this project will leave a legacy for Wayne who has been passionate about raising awareness for the disease.
“We have our first grandchild at the end of November and this is a legacy we can leave for our future grandchildren when Wayne’s no longer here,” Lisa says.
“They can feel and see what their grandpa was all about and how truly loved and respected he was.”
The resto was taken on by NTI service provider liaison Don Geer and manager of supplier relationships Peeter Liiv. You’d be hard pressed finding two blokes more suitable for the job.
With such a tight deadline, the pair went up against the odds and came out on top with an end product that had to be seen to be believed.
“The deadline went from what was originally 12 months to just less than four months!” Don laughs.
“To me, it’s the hardest mentally and physically challenging project that I’ve done, probably in my life, because of the time frame and the coordination of all the service providers to make it happen.
“But when it was all finished, it was just really emotionally gratifying to see; it blew me away.”
Peeter echoed Don’s statements, maintaining the pair was overjoyed when they saw the finished truck sitting in King George Square as people swarmed around it to take a closer look.
“It was exactly how we wanted it to finish off and it was beautiful to see it sitting there on the day,” Peeter says.
“I was ecstatic and after Don and
I were both so worried we wouldn’t make the date, it was great to see how happy all the partners that helped were when they saw the finished product – they couldn’t believe it.”
Tony Clark attributes the success of the restoration to a transport industry that sticks together and lends a hand for those in need.
“It’s the transport industry coming together as it does and suppliers really put some amazing time and effort into it, a lot of it donated, to create an incredible truck that looks so fantastic, so well finished,” he says. “It’s such a close knit community … I couldn’t be prouder of everybody involved.”
NTI is planning more restorations kicking off next year, and the way we see it, what better combination is there than old-school trucks and charity?
The truck as it looked rolled out of an old shed. Worse for wear and missing just a few bits and bobs!
Receiving the cheque for $55,020, left to right: MnD & Me CEO Paul Olds, NTI CEO Tony Clark, truck winner Trevor Fry and Triple M presenter Marto
The custom-pearled steering wheel and immaculate dash setup, with era-appropriate gold on wood grain colour scheme
Peeter Liiv, Tony Clark, the lucky winner Trevor Fry, Paul Olds and Don Geer celebrate as the truck passes hands!
Wayne Patterson’s wife Lisa Patterson (right) with her sister Maryanne Vaisnys