Thirty years in saddle for Lion-hearted Ian
Taking up cycling in middle age has led Warragul man Ian de Bruyne to a 30-year connection to a Lions fundraising bike ride that raises money for research into and treatment of eye diseases that cause vision loss and blindness.
Now, in his 70s, Warragul’s Ian de Bruyne is raring to go for the 30th anniversary Lions Ride for Sight from Friday March 22 to Sunday March 24, with all funds raised going to CERA’s research into new treatments and therapies for eye disease.
The first Lions Ride for Sight in 1994 took participants from Mallacoota to CERA headquarters in Melbourne – a mammoth 650km trek.
This year’s event is a shorter, but no less significant run from Moe to Cowwarr, near Heyfield, and return – about 170km.
Over the past 30 years, Lions Ride for Sight has raised more than $1.2 million for CERA. The aim this year is to raise a further $60,000.
Ian, a long-time Lions Club of Warragul member, said he had only recently discovered his passion for cycling when the first Ride for Sight was held – and he’s been hooked ever since.
“I was a bike rider. I was in my early days of bike riding for two or three years when I saw an advertisement in the Lions District 201V3 (Gippsland) newsletter about a bike ride from Mallacoota to Melbourne,” Ian says.
“I thought, ‘There’s a nice challenge’, so I decided to join. Cycling is something I love doing. I don’t have any eye issues and nor does my family. I thought, ‘I’m fit and well, so I’ll support this’, and I enjoyed it. I did it the next year and I enjoyed that.”
Ian said he is proud to support the ride, which is part of Lions International’s program to end preventable blindness around the world.
That work began after an address by blindness advocate Helen Keller to a Lions convention in the United States in 1925.
“Our Lions district’s idea was to ride right across our district to raise money. Our district starts at Phillip Island and ends in Mallacoota,” he says. “The rides are not as long now but I enjoy them still.”
He has served on the ride organisation committee for most of the past three decades, including five stints as chair. Last year, he handed over to present chairman, Moe Lions Club’s Paul Drinkwater.
“I love it. I don’t see it as a chore. CERA has been very supportive. They have fielded teams or riders in the past, and they still support us. I have done a lot of work on the management side of things but this year, and it’s a little bit selfish, I’m looking forward to riding again,” he says.
“There are a lot of people who have been involved with the ride for a long time. There’s a great social atmosphere. It’s very friendly.”
Supporting the cause
There are two ways to support the Lions Ride for Sight.
Participants can enter the ride itself from March 22 – 24 with a $70 entry fee. They must raise a minimum of $400 in sponsorship.
Or, riders can enter the Ride with a Difference, where riders pay $30 to enter and nominate the number of kilometres they aim to ride anywhere across the month of March to raise a minimum of $250 in sponsorship.
Riders will meet at the Moe Community Groups Hub at 4pm on Friday, 22 March, enjoy a group dinner at participants’ cost and an after-dinner presentation from a CERA representative on CERA’s work. They ride for Cowwarr on Saturday morning and return Sunday afternoon.
Lions Clubs from Moe, Heyfield and Latrobe Wellington and Bairnsdale host the ride by providing overnight and meal stops. Other Lions Clubs in our District donate funds towards this fundraising project.
To join the Ride for Sight or Ride With a Difference, or to support the riders, details are available on the event’s Raisley page.
For enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0450 260 679.
Media enquiries: Jamie Duncan, Ride for Sight Media Coordinator – 0417 377 617, JDwritesalot@gmail.com
Join the ride
Contribute to raising funds for research to achieve the goal of a world-free from vision loss and blindness.
Donate to support those doing the ride, or sign up to participate yourself.