Wingham's Ivor Thomas to take part in 2019 Northern NSW Ride for Sick Kids

Charity ride: Ivor Thomas has been training for the 2019 Northern NSW Ride for Sick Kids. The ride raises funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Photo: Rob Douglas.
Charity ride: Ivor Thomas has been training for the 2019 Northern NSW Ride for Sick Kids. The ride raises funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Photo: Rob Douglas.

The difference Ronald McDonald House Charities makes to children and their families is all the persuasion Ivor Thomas needed to suit up for the annual Northern NSW Ride for Sick Kids.

Ivor, from Wingham, is one of 18 cyclists who will ride more than 500 kilometres from Inverell to Newcastle to raise funds and awareness for Ronald McDonald Houses in Newcastle and Tamworth, family rooms in John Hunter Children's Hospital and Gosford Hospital as well as the family retreat at Forster.

Backing up from his debut charity ride in 2018, Ivor said he's keen to do it all over again.

"It's 550 kilometres with lots of hills this year," Ivor explained.

"I cycle all year round and so far this year I've clocked up over 8000 kilometres through training.

"This will make me one of the strongest riders there which sounds good but it means I'll have to do a lot of the hard work.

I hope that I never have to use it myself but you just know what impact it makes to local families.

Ivor Thomas, Ride for Sick Kids cyclist

"On the big hills, I'll be on the front dragging everyone else up but the good part is I get to sit on the front on the way down."

The group will head off on Tuesday, September 10 and travel through the New England region. They will meet residents and students along the way with stops in places like Armidale, Tamworth, Scone and Singleton.

The finish line will be at John Hunter Children's Hospital in Newcastle on Saturday, September 14. The aim this year is to raise $200,000.

"Anything that people can give will make a huge difference to families in need," Ivor said.

Ivor is a proficient cyclist and a member of the Manning Valley Cycle Club.

"I absolutely love it, a lot of cold winter mornings, but it comes with the territory. That (cold conditions) compares nothing to what some of the families the Ronald McDonald House Charities supports go through," he said.

Ivor pinpointed the moment he knew the charity ride would become an annual venture.

"It was an off the cuff comment the year before (2017) to Craig Evans, the franchise owner of McDonalds Taree, saying I would like to do it.

Riders on the 2018 Northern NSW Ride for Sick Kids stopped in Taree, Cundletown and Forster. Photo: supplied.

Riders on the 2018 Northern NSW Ride for Sick Kids stopped in Taree, Cundletown and Forster. Photo: supplied.

"I got into cycling at that time and then last year I did the coastal ride, Grafton through to Newcastle.

"It was on day two when we stopped at one of the schools to talk to the kids. Here I saw the real impact the charity makes. I committed to it again this year off the back of that."

Many have shared stories with Ivor about either themselves or someone they know who has used a Ronald McDonald House, the retreat at Forster or taken part in a learning program.

"You do realise what impact it has on families, particularly in our area, where children going through treatment or a stressful time like that have somewhere to go," Ivor said. "I hope that I never have to use it myself but you just know what impact it makes to local families."

Ivor will live stream on his Facebook page updates from the road. His progress on the bike will also be uploaded to cycling app Strava.

In 2018, Ronald McDonald House Charities helped more than 770 families and provided more than 7750 nights of accommodation.