TEEN HERO RIDES TO FIGHT DIS­EASE

Pilbara News - - Lifestyle - Louise Alling­ham

Mel­bourne teen Jack Totino is on a mis­sion to ride his bike the whole way around the coun­try to raise money and aware­ness for motor neu­ron dis­ease foun­da­tion FightMND.

Mr Totino, 18, passed through the Pil­bara last week and was ex­pected to stop in Broome on Mon­day or Tues­day.

Since em­bark­ing on his jour­ney in late Fe­bru­ary, Mr Totino has trav­elled more than 6000km and raised more than $40,000.

His ef­forts have been en­dorsed by Olympic world cham­pion cy­clist Anna Meares and AFL leg­end and MND suf­ferer Neale Dani­her.

Mr Totino ar­rived in Kar­ratha at 1am last Sun­day and was of­fered a bed and bike re­pairs by some gen­er­ous lo­cals.

Be­cause of strong winds, Mr Totino was forced to re­strict his trav­els to night time.

He took off for Whim Creek dur­ing the night of June 11 and was ex­pected to ar­rive in Broome early this week.

Mr Totino said the sup­port he had re­ceived along the way had been amaz­ing.

“Every­one’s been su­per sup­port­ive along the way wher­ever I’ve been re­ally — most of the coun­try towns more than the big cities,” he said.

“I’d get to road­houses some­times and they’d of­fer me free food and free rooms there along the way, which has helped save a bit of money.”

Mr Totino was in­spired to raise money for MND af­ter his friend’s dad died in 2014 af­ter a three-year bat­tle with the dis­ease.

Motor neu­ron dis­ease is a pro­gres­sive neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tion in which the body’s nerve cells de­gen­er­ate.

The name is given to a group of dis­eases which af­fect the nerves cells con­trol­ling mus­cles that en­able speech, move­ment, breath­ing and swal­low­ing.

“I was just mo­ti­vated to try and help make a dif­fer­ence,” he said.

“See­ing my friend’s dad quite healthy at the be­gin­ning, then watch­ing his de­te­ri­o­ra­tion from the dis­ease and what not over the years . . . and also what it did to my friend.

“Los­ing his dad at a young age was tough for him — it would be tough for any­one.”

Mr Totino said he had faced many chal­lenges along the road.

“When these winds hit, you re­ally can’t ride in them be­cause it’s just that strong. You’ll put in dou­ble the ef­fort and go half the dis­tance,” he said.

“I’d call my par­ents back home and say ‘I re­ally don’t want to do this. Why am I do­ing this?’

“Af­ter I thought about it and the help I’m giv­ing peo­ple who are sick, I guess, you know, I need to stick it out.

“I knew what I signed up for and I knew it was go­ing to be hard, so I have to see it through.”

Mr Totino will be trav­el­ling around the coun­try, in­clud­ing Tas­ma­nia, for an­other five months. To fol­low Mr Totino’s jour­ney or do­nate to the cause, visit his Face­book page Ride Around Aus­tralia for FightMND.

Pic­ture: BeGRIFF Im­ages

Jack Totino is rid­ing around Aus­tralia to raise money for FightMND.

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