In Blair’s honour

TEAM Blair Hair in the QSuper Cardiac Challenge this weekend was meant to be a trio, but instead mother-and-son duo Jacki and Blake Goodwin are taking it on in her brother’s honour.

Tragedy struck early in 2020 when Jacki’s younger brother Blair Kissel aged 40 died suddenly from a cardiac condition while mowing the lawn.

Hosted by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation, the QSuper Cardiac Challenge is a three-day bike ride where the community rallies together to ride the 333 kilometres from Cairns to Cooktown in September.

Funds raised from this year’s QSuper Cardiac Challenge will go towards a ventilator for cardiology, a lung function testing system and an endobronchial ultrasound system for respiratory.

It was Christmas in 2019 that Blair and his young family travelled to Weipa to enjoy the festive holiday with family that resulted in Blair promising to improve his health and fitness by making a pact to take part in the QSuper Cardiac Challenge when his nephew Blake (Jacki’s son) turned 12.

Ms Goodwin said doing the ride in his honour was helping them heal and remember him while the family deals with the grief of his loss.

“Blair was the first to admit he was overweight and had a bit of ‘dad bod’ but recognised it was time to improve his way of living by setting aside time to exercise,” Ms Goodwin said.

“Blair maintained a fairly stressful job, was previously a smoker and certainly enjoyed an alcoholic drink or two but at no point did we think his lifestyle was that bad it would cause us to lose him so suddenly.

“To say we were shocked and floored by the ordeal is an understatement, we were angry and devastated.

“I think most people these days know about the lifestyle risk factors that lead to heart disease but still don’t understand the real-life circumstances of not taking care of your health. Unfortunately, I now do and that’s why completing this ride and raising awareness and starting conversations with others is something I feel compelled to do.

“It’s not until you lose someone to a heart attack or have a scare yourself that you comprehend how important your health and regular check-ups with your doctor are.”

Training for the event has been difficult for Jacki and her son due to the lack of hills and bitumen road in Weipa.  The town does however have no shortage of wind which results in Ms Goodwin and Blake riding laps of their small town to help prepare them for the gruelling 3-day ride.

Already in the throes of preparing for the challenge before his passing, Blair had approached his workplace, Frizelle Sunshine Ford to sponsor their team. In an amazing show of support for Blair and his family, without hesitation the Ford dealership jumped on board to honour Blair’s wishes by supporting Jacki and Blake with sponsorship for the ride.

Foundation CEO Tony Williamson said the duo’s commitment was inspirational as was their willingness to share their story. “There are so many stories like this that we hear on the ride and the motivation to do something healthy for themselves and their community is admirable,” Mr Williamson said.

Jacki and Blake have been able to buy their own personalise cycling jerseys and support crew shirts that sport a caricature of Blair that he made a few months before he died.

Why the team name Blair Hair? Jacki said in his younger days Blair sported his own version of a mullet that saw him forever in the bathroom doing his hair. To his disgust, the mullet grooming earned Blair the nickname ‘Blair Hair’.

This weekend the mum and son duo will don the Team Blair Hair jerseys as they settle in for a 3-day slog riding from Cairns to Cooktown. In his honour, the duo intends to remind others along the way to keep their lifestyle and health in check so they can continue to ‘live the dream’ (Blair’s favourite saying).

To show your support for Team Blair Hair and the QSuper Cardiac Challenge, visit: https://fundraising.cardiacchallenge.com.au/champion/Cardiac-Challenge-2021/TeamBlairHair

QSuper Chief Executive Officer Michael Pennisi said “QSuper is committed to investing in initiatives which create long-term benefits for Queenslanders. QSuper looks after the retirement savings of many Department of Health employees in the state’s far north and we are proud to support an initiative that helps our members working in cardiac health provide state-of-the-art care for their patients.”

Mr Williamson said “We have absolutely loved working with QSuper, their team is very engaged and they really understand what we are about. Working together with them on our common goals has been incredibly rewarding and we are very grateful for their ongoing support.”

Visit www.cardiacchallenge.com.au. This year’s ride is from September 25-27.

About the QSuper Cardiac Challenge

The QSuper Cardiac Challenge is an annual fundraising bike ride from Cairns to Cooktown, hosted by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation. 2021 will be the 15th time the Cardiac Challenge bike ride has been held, with more than $4 million raised for cardiac services by the Foundation, in that time.

About QSuper

QSuper is one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, with $120 billion in funds under administration. From humble beginnings more than a century ago, today they manage the retirement savings of more than 600,000 members. More information https://qsuper.qld.gov.au.