When Greg Kelly rode into Wollongong on Thursday afternoon he was looking to ‘’switch more lights on’’ about Australia’s second biggest killer – dementia.
The Queenslander had just completed his sixth day of a ride around Australia which finishes on the Gold Coast on October 23.
Diagnosed at 59 with frontotemporal dementia, Mr Kelly has set himself the extraordinary challenge of riding around Australia on his Harley Davidson to raise funds and awareness about dementia.
The Sydney Chapter of HOG (Harley Owner's Group) also rode down to Wollongong on Thursday.
‘’The lights are slowly starting to turn on, people are starting to hear about it and that is what I was hoping to do,’’ he said.
‘’It’s the second biggest killer in Australia. We have people as young as 29 with young onset dementia. You can't go and get chemo, radiation, no operation to cut the bad bits out of your brain.
We have people as young as 29 with young onset dementia. You can't go and get chemo, radiation, no operation to cut the bad bits out of your brain.Greg Kelly
‘’They just tell you, look you got six or eight years left, go and get your affairs in order.’’
Mr Kelly’s life changed the day the specialist diagnosed him with frontotemporal dementia.
The former financial services executive is one of the more than 25,000 Australians living with younger onset dementia, which means they are under the age of 65 when diagnosed.
‘’I said we will sit here and our egg timer sits sideways on our desks, with the sands not running,’’ Mr Kelly said.
‘’But when a specialist leans forward and stands your egg timer up and says your sands are now running, you look at life a lot different from that second forward.
‘’Because as much as you want to put the egg timer back to the side, with this disease you can’t.’’
Because as much as you want to put the egg timer back to the side, with this disease you can’t.Greg Kelly
But he isn’t giving up and is calling on top 500 companies in Australia to donate just half a per cent of their yearly profits into a fund for medical research, to be dispersed to the top 10 [disease-related] killers in Australia.
‘’This way we can stop asking mums and dads for $5 or $10 and we get the top 500 companies doing that,’’ Mr Kelly said.
‘’That way then the top 500 companies can stand up proud and say look we are looking after our employees, their friends and family but more importantly we are recognising that the disease is effecting the people who buy our products and therefor our profits.
‘’I challenge one of the CEO’s of the top 500 companies to step forward while I’m doing this ride and say you know what, we're going to do this because then some other CEO’s will step forward and then we can switch more lights on this deadly killer.’’
Call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 or visit www.fightdementia.org.au/donate and mention Kell’s Ride to donate or for more information.