Annual Review 2023

Family in it together

Three sisters took on the ambitious challenge of riding 150km to raise vital funds for eye research – for themselves, for their family, and for others affected by age-related macular degeneration.


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Sisters Leesa Willmott, Kerry Fitzgerald and Sharon Oates are on a personal mission to end age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

All three have early stages of the disease while their parents, Colin and Pam Willmott, have later-stage disease.

“Mum gets needles in the eyes every six weeks, and Dad’s is at an advanced stage and he is legally blind,” says Kerry.

Through Colin and Pam’s long-standing membership of the Wonthaggi Lions Club, Leesa, Kerry and Sharon teamed up to tackle the 29th Lions Ride for Sight.

Since 1994 the event organised by Lions District 201V3 has raised over $1 million to support CERA’s research, and in 2023 saw riders cycle 150km through South Gippsland.

After setting an ambitious goal of $10,000, they surpassed all expectations raising $30,800 to support CERA’s research.

Even when the last day was cancelled due to poor weather, they retuned the following weekend to finish what they started.

“We had to do it for the people who had donated – as well as for ourselves,” says Sharon.

“It’s great if we can raise some money and scientists can find a cure for AMD,” says Kerry.

“Not only for us, but for our kids too.”


This story was originally published in People in focus: Annual Review 2023.

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