Monday, March 24, 2014

A Surprise for Raph! . . . Well, Somewhat

My friend Raphael McGowan's inspiring 1900 kilometre Cycling to March bike ride to raise awareness and funds for melanoma research, prevention, and a cure, concluded in Sydney's Centennial Park on Friday, March 21, 2014. . . . And, yes, it was great to be there!

As I've mentioned previously (here and here) Raph dedicated Cycling to March to his sister Tess (a friend and former student of mine) who died from melanoma in 2012. Tess's husband Victor and their young daughter Mabel were on hand to welcome Raph and his mum Bernie and sister Mim, who throughout Cycling to March were Raph's support drivers. Also present were Raph's brother Iggy and sister Collette. Raph's dad and older brother Jeremiah and his family were unable to be in Sydney, while his sister Dominica arrived from Cambodia the next day.

Opening image: Standing center with (from left) Victor, Bernie, Mim, Raph, Collette (holding Mabel), Jeanine (a good friend of Collette's) and Iggy.

I arrived in Sydney from Minneapolis via Dallas on Thursday, March 20 – the day before the completion of Cycling to March. My trip back to Australia had been some time in the planning, yet I couldn't mention it to too many people, and certainly not here or on Facebook, as I wanted it to be a surprise for Raph. And although my presence at Centennial Park completely surprised some (Iggy and Collette, for instance), it wasn't a total surprise to Raph because, as he told me later, he had heard "talk" I might be back in the country but that he wasn't sure exactly when or where! He was actually half-expecting me to show up in Goulburn, where a special dinner was held in his honor on Wednesday night. Of course, even though my presence was only somewhat of a surprise for Raph, it was still wonderful to be there to welcome and congratulate him and to catch up with him and members of his family after almost two years.

Following are some images from the March 21 event held in Sydney's Centennial Park to celebrate the completion of Raph's inspiring Cycling to March. For Sydney's Channel Ten's coverage of the event, click here.

Above: Jonathan Stretch of the Melanoma Institute congratulates Raph on his successful completion of Cycling to March.

Above: Raph and his mum with Paul Hillbrick of Cycles in Camden. Paul generously donated to Raph the bike he custom-built for him.

Later in the day Iggy, Collette, Jeanine and I enjoyed time on Bondi Beach, which is where I'm pictured above with Collette.

Above: My friend Garth with Raph, Dominica and Mim – Saturday, March 22, 2014. Dom had just arrived back from Cambodia that morning – and with a "What Does the Fox Say?" t-shirt for Raph!

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Raph's Inspiring Journey
Raph's Journey Continues

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Cathie Bayly said...

Great photos! What a massive journey and achievement. Good on Raph!

Marcia and Fred Moon said...

Lovely photos! Thanks for sharing, Mike.

Phyllis Reames said...

Wow. Awesome photos! So glad you could be there!

McAuley Hentges said...

Looks like a great day.

Joan Demeules said...

What a journey! Thank you for sharing it with us. I am so very glad you can be there!

Kathleen Olsen said...

Way to go Raph!

Jim Smith said...

Great pics, Michael. You're a lucky guy to have such good friends. My congrats to Raph. What a tribute to his sis.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. Anytime with Mr B is memorable - glad he is back safe and the weather looks warmer than when leaving!!