Broome father Matthew Campbell suffered his first stroke aged 5. Now he is riding to raise money for Telethon
A Broome stroke victim with a big heart is expected to complete a six-hour bike ride for Telethon next month.
At just five years old, Matthew Campbell suffered his first stroke, followed by several minor strokes which plagued his childhood and caused permanent damage to the function of his legs.
“It went on all through my childhood, I used to have them every few months,” he said.
“I would fall down for 10 minutes or so and then I’d be up and about.”
Now a father of two, Mr Campbell said his own experience left him motivated to make a difference to the lives of sick, disadvantaged children.
“I know what they go through, I have experienced it,” he said.
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This led the 39-year-old to begin fundraising for Telethon; to raise money for children in WA who face life threatening diseases.
It all began in 2017, on the 30th anniversary of his first stroke and the 50th anniversary of Telethon, when Mr Campbell completed a gruelling bike ride from Broome to Perth.
Leaving Cable Beach on June 12, Mr Campbell cycled for 22 days, pedalled 2100km and on some occasions, covered up to 123km in a single day.
“The winds were a bit hard, once I hit Karratha the last two weeks were riding into the wind,” he said.
In preparation for the ride, Mr Campbell dropped more than 25kg within a few months.
“I had done nothing before, I had never set foot in a gym and I was 108kg,” he said.
“It is all about mindset.”
The incredible feat helped Mr Campbell raise $51,000 for Telethon, which motivated him to continue his fundraising efforts the next year.
In 2018, alongside ex-rugby league player Matthew Fuller, Mr Campbell completed a 24-hour exercise bike ride at the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre which raised a further $4000.
“I only got off to go to the toilet,” he said.
“The 19-hour point onwards was hard but up until that mark it was nothing.
“But my eldest son Axel was running around and cheering me on.”
This year, Mr Campbell will make his Telethon comeback, travelling to Perth on October 13 for two weeks, for a six-hour non-stop exercise bike ride at Optus Stadium.
As an taxi driver in Broome, Mr Campbell works 12-hour days, but that hasn’t stopped him from jumping straight on the exercise bike when he gets home.
“I just have to keep the pedals turning for six hours straight and there’s not much tension, so in training, I’ve jacked up the tension to make it harder on myself so it will be easier in Perth,” he said.
“This is where the experience comes in.”
The 2021 Telethon weekend is on October 16 and 17, with live broadcasts from Crown Perth and Optus Stadium over 26 hours.
Mr Campbell said the Telethon environment was welcoming and supportive.
“People recognise me, it is a very good environment,” he said.
“I want to stay involved as much as I can.
“I want to help kids that have not been as lucky as I have been, because I have been lucky.”
It comes as WA actor Joel Jackson and his father travel 10,000km across the State on motorbikes to raise $25,000 for Telethon, with the duo set to pass through 100 cities in just 45 days.
After passing through Kununurra last week, the father-son are expected to stop in Broome this weekend.
Since starting in 1968, Telethon has raised $306 million for the children of WA.
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