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The Mater Smiling for Smiddy ‘Challenge in the Tropics’ wheeling out across North Queensland later this month is a poignant reminder of the legacy one life can leave.
The sudden death of triathlete and physiotherapist Adam Smiddy (pictured) in 2006 due to an aggressive melanoma inspired his coach Mark ‘Sharky’ Smoothy to cycle to Townsville in honour of his protégé — a challenge that would soon become the annual Mater Smiling for Smiddy event.
While he never got around to riding home to Home Hill with Smiddy despite talking about it many times, Sharky knew it would be the best way to honour his mate.
Mater Foundation Director of Corporate and Community Engagement Rowan Foster remembers how quickly Adam deteriorated after his diagnosis.
“Adam and I were in a triathlon club at the University of Queensland together and we were both around the same age, so we sort of connected at similar levels and spent a lot of time together training and racing,” Mr Foster said.
“He was diagnosed with secondary cancer and was only in hospital for around seven days before he passed away really quickly,” Mr Foster said.
The Mater Smiling for Smiddy Program has been able to deliver a significant amount of funds into Mater Research to support real game-changers and breakthroughs in the cancer research space.
“To lose Adam at just 26-years-old, now knowing what we have been able to help fund and make available to people that are today being diagnosed with cancer, is pretty heart-warming.”
Throughout Mr Foster’s involvement with Mater Foundation throughout the past eight years, he’s become familiar with many Mater Researchers including Professor Brian Gabrielli, whose progress in the field of immunotherapies is changing outcomes for patients just like Adam.
“Today, a case like Adam’s would have access to a range of treatments, which back then could have given him a greater chance at longer-term remission and the opportunity for a longer life.”
As he prepares to join 60 fellow riders on Thursday 28 April for the five-day Smiling for Smiddy Challenge in the Tropics, Mr Foster wants to remind Mater staff that anyone can get involved.
“Many Mater people have participated through the years and that’s been wonderful – including Professor Gabrielli,” he said.
Mr Foster said his close mate would be humbled to know his legacy and memory continues so strongly today, through an event that’s become a platform for others to come in and share their own stories about cancer.
“These days, if you bump into people while wearing a Smiddy shirt they will still tell you they knew or worked with Adam, so he carried a lot of respect in the relationships he had. It is a real privilege to keep his memory alive.
“Participating in a Smiling for Smiddy event is a wonderful experience – the comradery, spirit, and friendships that come out of it are truly special.”
Click here for find out more, participate, or donate.
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