For many of us hearing the ACT Government’s Canberra Stronger Together video for the first…
Gramps. Grandpa. Opa. Pop. Pappy. Papa. Nonno. Granddad. Whatever you call him, it all means one thing – grandfather. But for 16 year old Josh Goyne it means so much more.
Next Saturday, the young semi-pro cyclist and youngest of two will mount his BH Prisma bike and hit the road to ride south—all the way to the Melbourne in honour of his granddad, Barry, who passed away earlier this year after suffering his sixth stroke in August and to raise both money and awareness for Australia’s second biggest killer.
But sadly, it is not where Josh’s story begins.
When Josh first learnt of his Granddad’s battles with strokes, he was in year 10 and already experiencing a rough time at school. Admitting he was on a downward slope into depression he says it was all a little too much for him to handle when he found out about his granddad’s change in health.
“Everything started last year with my granddad when he became paralysed after suffering a stroke. I missed my football grand final to hitchhike my way to Queensland to go see him [granddad] when I found out. We were really broke for cash at the tine and I was just really determined,” says Josh.
Josh became more withdrawn, often spending time in room alone doing nothing.
“Basically, if I didn’t discover cycling I probably wouldn’t be here,” he says admitting that like most teenagers he spiralled into bad habits, including drinking, to escape the reality that his Granddad was not the self-sufficient, independent man he used to be.
But after picking up a bike, he realised there was no room for the bottle and stopped cold turkey.
“I went for a 70 kilometre ride—my first ride and the first time I touched a gear bike,” Josh says.
Hooked, he kept going with it using the cycling time to work through the emotions of how he was feeling. After two weeks he decided to ride to Sydney to raise money for stroke victims including his granddad.
Just before his granddad passed, Josh headed to Swan Hill to follow in the footsteps of his idol and pursue a passion for farming; an experience that saw him live independently and build the confidence to negotiate with his school to complete year 11 and 12 on the basis of a work-experience arrangement.
A blessing in disguise, it’s also allowed Josh time to plan his next ride.
With 300-odd kilometres stretched before him, it took Josh three days to reach Sydney but it was sheer motivation that kept him pedalling. Next Saturday, he’ll make the journey south to complete a ride more than twice the distance—his biggest ride yet.
What started as a 660 kilometre ride has now grown to just over 700 as a result of a few ‘interesting road rules’ including event permits and detouring through ‘back streets’ due to the nature of Barry’s Army convoy.
“Officially we’re not an event because we don’t have more than 20 people, but there has been a fairly big stack of paperwork we’ve..my manager…has had to go through,” says Josh.
His final destination once he reaches Melbourne CBD – the National Stroke Foundation Head Office on Bourke Street.
But while the ride is in an effort to raise funds for victims of strokes and raise awareness on how to identify the symptoms, Josh shares that his granddad was not the only one in the family to suffer from stroke.
“My grandma (Granddad’s wife) also suffers from strokes, and her new partner does as well. My grandmother on dad’s side does too,” says Josh.
“The ride is for all of them though and everyone who has suffered from or lost someone to a stroke.”
With proud parents supporting him and a barrel of strong ethics and values too, all of Josh’s riding gear including his bike has been self-funded with 100% of the monies raised going towards those who need it most.
“I learnt that from my Granddad,” he says. “It doesn’t feel right to use the money people have given me on stuff I need.”
Young as he may be, Josh is now helping run his Granddad’s farm travelling to the Sunshine Coast when he can. But for now he relies on the spirit of true Aussie mateship.
“I’ve got some good friends in Queensland that I can call if anything happens when I’m not there, but I do get up there regularly enough to manage it.”
Sharing the sacrifices made throughout such a crucial schooling year, Josh says none of them have mattered.
“I almost failed year 10 to look after my granddad, but to be honest I didn’t care because I feel you just should do that for family.”
“He was my granddad…my idol and my mate.”
So what are the signs?
The FAST test is an easy way to recognise and remember the signs of stroke. Using it involves asking four simple questions.
Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arm – Can they lift both arms?
Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away.
Help Josh and Barry’s Army Stroke Awareness Ride reach their $20,000 target by donating here. The team will be gearing up to leave Canberra next Saturday morning and you’re invited to send them off and wish them luck at their barbecue breakfast.
If you’d like to sponsor Josh and his cause email email@example.com.
What: Barry’s Army Stroke Awareness Ride Melbourne
When: 7am Saturday 6 December
Where: Power Kart Raceway, Fyshwick