Natalie O'Connell - you are the winner in more ways than one!
Back on July 31, Natalie became the new owner of the 2013 Liv/giant Via 1 W valued at $579 and today I was with her when she was able to head off to Giant Hampton to collect it.
But Natalie was not the actual winner of the bike.
At 7:30pm on July 31, the name that was drawn from the bucket by my 6 year old daughter was Jeanette McGhee. Jeanette is based in QLD and is one of my Vision Crusader team mates. She is a survivor of this disease we all ride for. And on this night, she showed a side of human spirit that will stay with me forever.
Jeanette made the decision to donate the bike back to someone who has helped support me on my journey. Through some conversation, I gave Jeanette the names of a few people who had purchased a ticket for the Via that stood out, so I gave Jeanette the choice of who she would like to give the bike to.
The person who Jeanette chose has had her own battle and knows what she needs to do to kick Cancers butt. She inspires me every day because I know there is life after a cancer diagnosis. And she inspired me to cut my hair and donate, because I know how much that meant to her when she underwent treatment. And she is one of my Fighters - one of the people who keep me Riding to Conquer Cancer. One of the people I think of whenever I see a lime green ribbon.
That is how Natalie - on behalf of Jeanette, became the proud owner of the Liv/giant Via.
But little did either Jeanette or I know how much this was going to mean to Natalie.
On the day that the decision had been made by a complete stranger to give Natalie such a perfect gift, Natalie had been at Peter Mac having screening tests done. Natalie is a survivor of Hodgkins Lymphoma, but like any cancer survivor, there is always the thought of the disease returning. Natalie had been in getting tests done that day and had an anxious wait before she was going to get her results. Whilst in at Peter Mac, Natalie had noticed all of the RTCC advertising everywhere and kept thinking about the people are who tirelessly fundraise for this cause. And during all the waiting around, she was chastising herself thinking how she really needed to do more exercise to stay healthy to compliment all the other important things to prevent her cancer returning.
It is odd how the universe works, but on this day, it was a random act of kindness that now allows Natalie to do exactly what she was thinking. And it was able to put a smile on her face : the face that was hiding her fear that she could have had another fight on her hands.
The last few weeks had been tough for Natalie. Not only did she face the very real possibility of having to fight again, she also spoke about her battle for the first time in a public forum. In front of over 100 of her work colleagues Natalie spoke about her battle with Cancer. She spoke about her diagnosis, her treatment and how she felt when she watched her beautiful long hair disappear. She also spoke about how it made her feel when she saw what people like myself do daily to try and make a difference. Not only through fundraising, but also through the donation of hair. Natalie was the one who put me onto Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
So today, standing in Giant Hampton and watching Natalie receive her bike, pick out her helmet and the perfect little bell (a retro pink heart bell) I was so proud to see Natalie overcome with excitement. It took her back to the last time she had ridden her bike - a time that she would define as pre-cancer.
I only hope that the Via brings memories of those times back to her. The feeling of floating, the wind in her hair and the freedom that riding a bike gives.
Natalie - you are an inspiration to many and on behalf of Jeanette, on behalf of Liv/giant and on behalf of me - ENJOY your "whole new way of living" ....
Thanks also has to go to Jo Hall at Liv/giant for donating the Via. It meant that 100% of ticket sales has been donated to my Ride To Conquer Cancer - an amount totalling $1030.
|Natalie receives her new bike!!|
She wasn't quite ready to dink me home!!
Nat heads out ready for new adventures
... and tries to convince Bailey that this will be fun!!