By Brodie Cowburn
It was late 2015 when personal tragedy struck Rachael Ford and Shane McGuinness: they lost their daughter Ruby-Rose to cancer. In spite of their grief, it didn’t take the couple long to turn their heartbreak into hope.
This year, the Ruby-Rose Rainbow Fund will be holding their second annual Ruby’s Ride n Roll across the peninsula, an event started by Rachael and Shane in an effort to raise awareness of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, and gather support towards an issue so close to their hearts.
“This is for kids with cancer. We’re fundraising for clinical trials, particularly for a type of leukaemia which one in three children will not survive. We lost our daughter to cancer two years ago, she had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, which is a very aggressive type of blood cancer. Our daughter was diagnosed at 18 months, and she was pretty much in the Royal Children’s Hospital for another 18 months,” said Rachael of her daughter’s struggle.
“There’s intensive chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, radiation therapy, but apart from her hair you really couldn’t tell she had leukaemia. She was always running around the ward; the nurses even nicknamed her ‘Flash’. She was always laughing and smiling. What we’re looking to fund now is research into a more effective, gentler treatment, more along the lines of immunotherapy rather than that harsh chemo.”
Despite her illness, her father Shane also said that Ruby-Rose was full of life and energy. Her treatment saw her parents spend a lot of time in the Royal Children’s hospital, where they met other families and kids going through similar struggles.
“Ruby-Rose was our only child. She was born in 2013 and she was your normal energetic, inquisitive little toddler. Later on she was diagnosed and from there it was a rollercoaster. She had three relapses in her treatment which unfortunately culminated in November 2015. We were told she had five weeks to live, and she lived about three weeks of that,” said Shane.
“We’ve had a lot to do with the Royal Children’s Hospital, and we’ve met a lot of people through that. There are so many kids who are going through all sorts of things – blood cancers, tumours – and it is everyone from newborns to kids in their late teens. Some of these are curable, and some are terminal. The treatment is so harsh at the moment. Even adults would never want to go through that, and the kids are unaware of what they’re facing. Somewhere along the line we’re hoping we can find an immunotherapy treatment, especially for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.”
In support of this cause, the Ruby’s Ride n Roll event will see a fleet of classic cars and motorcycles come together, and ride in honour and support of Ruby-Rose and all children who have had, or are currently suffering from, cancer.
“Ruby’s Ride n Roll is a fundraiser we are holding for kids with cancer. We’ve teamed up with the Children’s Cancer Foundation, and whatever we raise they hold in trust, and will be distributed in consultation with us. If a clinical trial comes up for AML along the lines of immunotherapy, we will support that. Last year we had seventy people and between thirty to forty cars and motorbikes come through,” said Rachael.
The event will take place on Saturday 14th of April, with registration being thirty dollars to be paid on the day. The ride will commence in the morning from Mount Martha at the Dava Hotel, and continue around the peninsula throughout the rest of the day.
“It’ll be a tour along the coast down to the Sorrento Hotel, through Flinders to The Pig & Whistle for a barbeque lunch. From there we’ll go through Red Hill, then to Hastings at the Marina Bar and Bistro. At each stop, we’ll also be doing a dice roll, and the person with the highest dice roll at the end of the day will win a prize. We’ll continue back to Mornington through Main Street, and back to the Dava Hotel where there will be an auction,” said Rachael.
“We are proud to be part of the Children’s Cancer Foundation as they are a great organisation and have fundraised millions of dollars to help kids with cancer. They fund a lot of childhood cancer research and the good thing with the Children’s Cancer Foundation is that about 85 percent of the funds will go straight into the research and clinical trials with very little being spent on administrative costs. Anyone can come along. It’s all about awareness of kids with cancer. It’s more the merrier; we want to make this annual and we want to keep raising it up.”
The idea for the event came from a trip Rachael and Shane took following the passing of their daughter.
“After Ruby-Rose passed away we went on a trip and stopped at Orbost. There they have the poker run, which they do for Ronald McDonald house in Monash. We got talking to them and they invited us to come along. They’ve raised tens of thousands of dollars, and we just thought something like that would be great around the peninsula. Ruby-Rose was a Mornington girl and it will be great to get local support,” Rachael said.
The event is one of a number held under the Ruby-Rose Rainbow Fund banner, which has spent the last year raising crucial funds to help children with cancer.
“We started up the Ruby-Rose Rainbow Fund about a year after Ruby passed. At this point we have three events a year, it was our first Ride n Roll last year, which is for classic cars and motorbikes around the peninsula. We’ve also done a trivia night and a colour run at Flemington, which we put a team together for and raise funds from. Overall we’ve raised approximately 38,000 dollars so far, which is held in trust by the Children’s Cancer Foundation,” Rachael said.
“The three events appeal to and attract different people,” said Shane about the events on the Ruby-Rose Rainbow Fund calendar. “The colour run is a fun thing to do where you get a lot of people come along for just the fun of it. The Ruby’s Ride n Roll event attracts the motor heads with their bikes and cars. People often ask for this event what they can do to get involved because they don’t have a classic car or a motorbike, but they can just donate or even bring along their standard family car for the day.”
Cancer Australia estimates that over 700 children under the age of 14 will be diagnosed with cancer each year. Of that number, nearly 400 are children are under the age of four. In holding these fundraising events, those involved with the Ruby-Rose Rainbow Fund hope to make a difference in the lives of those children.
“The kids often handle these things better than the parents,” said Rachael. “For us, if we can help kids in the future and save a kid’s life, we have to try.”
Registration for Ruby’s Ride n Roll will be open from 9am on Saturday 14 April at the Dava Hotel.
To find out more information or to get involved, visit rubyroserainbowfund.com.au