Jack does it for MS and mental health
by JAMES POYNER
5th April 2021
JACK WHELAN met a cheering crowd outside Grand Hotel Warrandyte on March 23, after completing a 2,043 kilometre ride around Victoria, raising money and awareness for the charities MS Australia and Outside the Locker Room.
Setting off from Lake Hume on March 9 and averaging 145km a day, Jack, along with a dedicated support crew, cycled through iconic landscapes such as the Murray River and the Great Ocean Road.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 23, he reached the final landmark of his epic journey — The Grand Hotel, Warrandyte — where a joyful crowd had gathered to toast the end of a long two weeks in the saddle.
Surpassing double his original target of $50,000, on Wednesday afternoon he had raised more than $119,000 for his chosen charities, and the Diary was there to welcome the saddle-sore Park Orchardian home, where he spoke to us about his adventure.
“It was a great adventure and I loved absolutely every minute of it.
“Obviously parts were more challenging than expected, and parts were maybe a little bit easier, and more enjoyable than I expected.
“The highlights were the time spent with family and friends around the campfire laughing, telling jokes in the night time.
“We got to ride through some of the most beautiful spots in the world.
“The Great Ocean Road, through the Otways, and we got to spend a lot of time along the mighty Murray River as well, which was really, really, special, and to share that with people I love the most made it really special.”
Jack was riding for two Charities; MS Australia and Outside the Locker Room, two charities Jack has a close personal relationship with.
“I lost my cousin to Multiple Sclerosis at a fairly young age.
He was diagnosed at 28, and from the day he was diagnosed he never worked another day in his life, and sadly passed away about four years after that.
So if I was ever going to do something, MS Australia was the one.
Moving onto the mental health side of things, I experienced some of my own mental health challenges, which a number of us have and a lot of us will do.
I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat to some of the stuff Outside the Locker Room do, so I decided they would be the charity that I also wanted to support.”
Before heading into the Grand Hotel for a well deserved pint of Stone and Wood, Jack had one final message for his supporters and sponsors.
“I would love to say thank you to everyone who has donated so far, we have had over 280 individual donors, which is mind blowing, and I would say I only know 25 per cent of them.
“So people who don’t even know me have done it out of the goodness of their heart, so I will be forever grateful.
“The guys at Port Melbourne Cycles looked after the bike, gave us a heap of hydration and energy and all that kind of stuff — advice and knowledge and wouldn’t take any money, so I would like to give them a massive shout out as well.
“I am extremely appreciative for everyone’s support.”
Since completing his ride, Jack’s Miles for Smiles fundraiser has increased to $122,600.
Jack is planning to keep the fundraising page open for a few more weeks, and will close it off once the “thank you” video that documents his journey is released.
A link to the website where you can donate to his cause can be found at www.facebook.com/Miles-for-Smiles-106216371138548