On his bike for charity

Rider Paul Atkinson climbed the hills around Ballarat as part of Ride for Sick Kids.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Once again, Paul Atkinson has cycled 200 kilometres of rural scenery as part of Ride for Sick Kids (RSK).

The Narre Warren rider jokes that he’s a glutton for punishment, having supported the charity ride for ill and injured children and families from the start 12 years ago.

In that time, he’s helped raise more than $2.9 million – or 15,500 nights of accommodation for families in need at Ronald McDonald House.

This year, Mr Atkinson – a general manager at Dandenong South bakery Aryzta – joined 40 RSK riders around his former hometown Ballarat on 19-21 March.

They aimed to raise $160,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities in Victoria and Tasmania.

Before the event, he said he loved the camaraderie of the ride which supports such a worthy cause.

“It’s probably that all the riders are there for the one thing.

“It doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from. It’s just an event you want to be part of.”

Mr Atkinson was initially inspired to help RSK through friends making use of Ronald McDonald House.

“There was that relief that they had a place to stay where their kids were in hospital.

“The kids were that resilient and always positive, but to have a family member nearby was an extra boost.

“I can’t imagine the emotion and the stress of going through something like that.”

In 2010, Mr Atkinson started helping RSK as part of the road support crew.

He bought one of the riders’ bikes at a fundraising auction and has since ridden it in the event for the past 10 years.

This year he’s been feeling more fatigued coming out of Covid lockdown but was training “fairly solidly”. But there’s no pressure to break any records – the event is not a race.

“We only go as fast as the slowest rider – everyone starts, everyone finishes.”

There’s also a self-paced virtual ride between 19-27 March, which aims to raise $96,000.

To donate or take part in the virtual ride go to rmhcvictas.org.au/event/rfsk2022/rfsk-home-page