Bike ride honours UOW student's memory

Charity cyclists Lester Ramos, Kate Ricaptio and Avril Nadin. Picture: CRISTINA LEPRE
Charity cyclists Lester Ramos, Kate Ricaptio and Avril Nadin. Picture: CRISTINA LEPRE

Avril Nadin never met Cameron O'Brien but when she saw his photo, she recognised him straight away from the hallways of the University of Wollongong.

He was a year ahead of her in a law degree. Both were doing double degrees - him commerce; her psychology.

Mr O'Brien was in his fourth year of study when he unexpectedly died. His death, in 2012, was attributed to SUDEP - Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy. He was 21.

"I wish I had the chance to meet him, because everyone says what a great guy he was," Miss Nadin said.

"When I met Cameron's dad I just knew I had to do something."

Miss Nadin has organised a 700km fund-raiser pushbike ride - 700 for SUDEP - Cameron O'Brien Memorial Ride - to raise money for research into what causes SUDEP-related deaths, which occur in about one in 1000 people with epilepsy per year.

"SUDEP and SIDS are quite similar - they both devastate families - but there's no funding for research into SUDEP," said Miss Nadin, 25, of Carlton.

Miss Nadin became familiar with Mr O'Brien's story last year when she received a bursary established in his memory.

Herself beholden to a challenging health condition - thought to be the neuromuscular disease Myasthenia Gravis, which causes fatiguing muscles - she broke down at the bursary presentation ceremony after Mr O'Brien's father, magistrate Chris O'Brien, addressed the room.

"Just seeing his dad and how devastated their family was - you sit there and think, that could have quite easily been me."

The fund-raiser ride begins in Cooma and covers 700km over seven days, with a shorter, two-day course for weekend riders.