By Colin MacGillivray
A BEAMING smile was a welcome sight for the family of Kilmore seven-year-old Jack, after the young brain-tumour patient was presented with a new bicycle by Wheel House Bikes on Thursday.
Jack was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis – a condition that causes tumours to form in the brain, spinal cord and nerves – nearly four years ago after being taken to the doctor for a routine check-up. The diagnosis came at an especially hard time for the family.
“His dad passed away four years ago and six months after he passed away we found out he had the brain tumour,” Jack’s mother Kylie said.
“He’s also got an optic nerve glioma, which is a benign, non-cancerous brain tumour.
“He had chemotherapy for 18 months to try to shrink the tumour and stabilise his vision, because it affects his vision. At the minute his vision is stabilised and the tumour is stabilised.
“The brain tumour is still there. They didn’t want to operate on the tumour because they said where it’s positioned, operating on it could send him completely blind. It’s a lot to deal with for a little boy.”
While Jack endured his treatment stoically, people who knew the family were eager to help.
Sue Nicholls, a customer at Kilmore’s Wheel House Bikes, said she knew of Jack’s plight and last year mentioned to Kylie that she was taking part in the Great Cycle Challenge – a charity fundraiser for the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, which is dedicated to researching and treating childhood medical conditions.
“When I mentioned to Kylie what I was doing she said she wanted to donate some money,” she said.
“I said ‘oh no, we’re doing it for families like you’, but Kylie gave me some money.
“I bumped into Kylie again a few weeks ago and said I was riding again [this year] and that I had a guernsey I wanted to give to Jack.”
But Ms Nicholls contributed far more than a guernsey. This year she was part of an eight-person Wheel House Bikes team that raised more than $7000 of a national $6.87 million during this year’s Great Cycle Challenge.
Wheel House Bikes owner Sam Cummins offered a $100 shop voucher for whichever team member raised the most money, and Ms Nicholls won the prize by raising more than $2500.
She decided to give the voucher to Jack’s family in addition to the guernsey, but when team coordinator Kim Lane told Mr Cummins what Ms Nicholls was planning to do, he decided to up the ante.
Mr Cummins donated a new bike to Jack as a surprise last week.
He said he was glad to be able to make a positive impact.
“The shop is going well, so I want to give back to the community. It’s the community who have made the shop what it is,” he said.
“It feels good to be able to help people out. I’ve seen [Jack] up and down the street on foot, so a bike will help him get around a lot easier.”
Kylie said she was overwhelmed by the gesture.
“It was a beautiful, big surprise,” she said.
“It’s great to have good news like this. We want to say thank you so much.”
Mr Cummins said the Wheel House Bikes team planned to raise more money during next year’s Great Cycle Challenge in order to support more families like Jack’s.
“Hopefully [the challenge] should grow and get bigger every year, and next year when everyone can interact together it will be a bit better because we’ll be able to do group rides,” he said.
“This year it was all individual, so it’ll be more of an event if we can all do it together.”
Jack himself was simply happy to take his new bike for a ride.
When asked what he thought of it, all he could say was ‘wow’.