Little Sophie Gwynne was a completely normal little 18-month-old on July 23, 2006.
The day before she had a cold. The next day she died of two heart conditions no one could have foreseen.
In a few weeks’ time her dad Mark will ride 330km to Cooktown in Sophie’s honour, his first time riding the Mt Franklin Cardiac Challenge for cardiac services.
“She was taken to the doctor the day before because she had a cold that had lasted a month. It wasn’t much, just a runny nose and she was still her usual bubbly self, just like any young kid really. Then the next day she was gone. It wasn’t the doctor’s fault, the only way anyone would have known something was up, was to put her on an ECG. No one would do that for a cold and it wouldn’t have mattered, from what we were told anyway,” Mr Gwynne said.
Doctors later assessed Sophie was struck down by a double whammy of cardiac conditions – interstitial myocarditis and hystiocytoid cardiomyopathy – a very rare disease.
Mr Gwynne, who works with Cairns Regional Council, said he decided to take part in the Cardiac Challenge through friends.
“It was actually a friend through squash and she just got me thinking about it. I had hardly ridden a bike since school but I’m really glad I’m doing it. I’ve got a new bike and I’m enjoying riding but Sophie is always with me and part of what I’m doing. Nothing could change what happened but the more that we can do to help other people, the better off we all are as a community.”
The Cardiac Challenge is an annual fundraising bike from Cairns to Cooktown, raising funds for cardiac services in FNQ. Hosted by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation, the bike ride has raised $3.1 million for cardiac services, including contributing to the second cardiac catheter laboratory at Cairns Hospital.
Foundation fundraising and marketing manager Glenys Duncombe said cases like Sophie Gwynne’s were incredibly sad, but it was beautiful to see her Dad getting on a bike and riding in her honour.
“We probably can’t save everyone, but by raising awareness and money in the community, we’re making a big difference to lots of local people,” Ms Duncombe said.
The Cardiac Challenge is an annual bike ride from Cairns to Cooktown, in its 13th year and has raised more than $3.1 million for cardiac services in that time. It will be held September 21-23, 2019.
To donate to Mr Gwynne’s fundraising efforts visit: HERE or HERE.