Fiona Elsey was a young cancer patient who grew up in Ballarat. She attended Ballarat High School.
In 1990, at the age of just 13, Fiona was diagnosed with with Ewing’s Sarcoma. At the time, the survival rate for Ewing’s Sarcoma was approximately 5%.
During her final weeks, Fiona asked her doctor, Dr George Kannourakis why cancer research only occurred in capital cities. Fiona made Dr Kannourakis promise that he would make her dream of a regional research centre a reality and work so that other people would not have to go through what she was going through.
Fiona lost her fight in 1991, aged 14, but she inspired many around her including doctor and the local community.
The community rallied to then raise the initial funds to support the establishment of what was known as the Ballarat Cancer Research Centre. In 1998, the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Laboratory, named in Fiona’s memory, was officially opened.
The centre is recognised as the only regional based cancer research centre in Australia.
The Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute is non-government funded and relies on fundraising efforts to fund their research.
With the global pandemic, the fundraising team has had to cancel events including the Answer for Caner Dinner and Tom O’Tooles A Model Ford tour across Australia. Additionally, seminars, tours and other events have been cancelled until further notice.
There is one event that Western Victorians have embraced that will go ahead. The Fiona Elsey Cycle Classic.
The Ballarat Cycle Classic hopes to raise $150,000 for cancer research. With a massive team of volunteers and events for all types of experienced riders, the fundraiser is one of the biggest for the centre.
The rides on offer this year range widely in type and distance. From a 6km Lake Wendouree fun ride to a 160km ‘Spud’ ride, named in memory of Danny ‘Spud’ Frawley. Danny was a long term ambassador.
If road rides are not your game, there is also a 30, 40 or 50km mountain bike course available.
If you prefer to support without a bike, you can do that too with a 6km walk / run, a 16km run, or a 21.1km half marathon.
If you would like to donate to the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute, you can do so here.