TEEN HERO RIDES TO FIGHT DISEASE
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.
Jack Totino is riding around Australia to raise money for FightMND.