Twenty-three years separate them, but the similarities between avid long-distance cyclists Pete McNally and Jeremy Scott, are astounding.
Mr McNally instigated the Cardiac Challenge in 2007 because of his experiences seeking and receiving treatment locally for his long-term congenital heart problems. He had open heart surgery age 53 for a hole in the heart, a surgery they did not routinely undertake in the 1950’s, whereas New Zealand-born Mr Scott had his surgery for hole in the aortic valve as a toddler.
Mr Scott is famous for riding 52,000km around the world and wrote the book “The Long Road From A Broken Heart” and in 2018 rode the Mt Franklin Cardiac Challenge with Mr McNally.
Visiting the region as part of a public speaking tour, Mr Scott came across some participants in the Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge at a local Rotary meeting in 2017.
As a toddler, he had a huge hole in his aorta valve that denied him the chance to live the life of a normal child. At four years of age, he underwent open heart surgery at the hands of renowned surgeon Sir Brian Barratt-Boyes. Thirty-four years later, with very little experience or training, he began his 2.5 year bicycle ride that resulted in him riding through 29 countries from the UK to New Zealand.
Mr Scott, a recipient of the Australian Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero Award, said he was blown away by the efforts of Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge participants in its 12 years raising funds for better cardiac care locally. There are so many synergies between what I have done and what the people organising and fundraising in this event, do,” Mr Scott said. “I would strongly urge anyone with a family member or loved one with heart issues, to get behind these fundraisers and help them achieve their goals,” he said.
The hole in Mr McNally’s heart was repaired with a bovine patch but he has since gone on to undergo further cardiac treatment for arrhythmia. With both interventions he had to travel for treatment because it was not locally available at the time. He still requires monitoring and there is the distinct possibility of future problems which drives his passion for the event as well as his passion for cycling. “You just never know when you or someone you care about might suffer a heart condition, so I strongly urge everyone to donate to the cause that might save their life one day,” Mr McNally said.