[singlepic id=434 w=320 h=240 float=left] Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt is calling on bike riders in the far north to join him next month for the third annual ‘Ride for Isabel’ to raise awareness and funds for Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support (SANDS) Queensland.

Starting as a one day 85 kilometre ride in 2010, the ride has grown to a three day 293 kilometre cycling event in 2012 and honours the memory of Mr Pitt’s baby daughter Isabel who was stillborn at 41 weeks in 2008.

Mr Pitt said the Ride for Isabel starts on Friday 27 July at Smithfield for experienced riders confident of riding the Kuranda Range or at Speewah for the less experienced riders.

“Cyclists will ride from Smithfield up the Kuranda Range, then head towards Atherton, ending the first day at Malanda,” Mr Pitt said.

“Day two will see riders heading to Innisfail on the Palmerston Highway with an overnight stop at Innisfail.

“On Sunday, it’s on to Gordonvale, with a brief stopover at Babinda, before ending the journey at Norman Park.

“It’s fun, it’s about getting fit and it’s about supporting SANDS,” Mr Pitt said.

Since its inception in 2010, the ride has raised more than $11,000 for SANDS Queensland.

Mr Pitt revealed that the 2012 ride would be particularly hard for him and it wasn’t because of the additional day.

“In September 2010 I was gearing up to take part in the Cardiac Challenge – a ride from Cairns to Cooktown to support the FNQ Hospital Foundation,” he said.

“The night before the ride I had given a speech and revved up the riders at Barlow Park but hours later fell very ill for several days. Since that time I just haven’t been right.

“I continue to feel lethargic and weak and have had numerous tests to find out the cause.

“I said when we started this ride in 2010 that it would happen every year, even if I was the only one doing it. A few months ago, that could’ve been in doubt.

“While I still don’t know what the cause of the sickness has been, I’m on the mend and feeling stronger by the day and can’t wait to get back on the bike for this very personal and important event.”

Mr Pitt said he and his wife Kerry couldn’t have pulled through the trauma of losing their daughter without the help of SANDS. He has since become the Queensland patron of the organisation.

“There are no words to describe the pain of losing Isabel. SANDS was there for us every step of the way,” Mr Pitt said.

“Kerry and I vowed to do whatever we could to raise funds to provide much-needed counselling and support services for families and those affected by the sudden death of an infant or through reproductive loss.

“Bereaved parents often find the need to talk to someone who has had an experience similar to their own. SANDS offers 24-hour support services via telephone and email as well as regular support meetings.

Mr Pitt said all the proceeds from the Ride for Isabel will go to SANDS Queensland and will support counselling and bereavement services, as well as events like the ‘Walk to Remember’ here in Cairns.

Register online here or for more information call the Mulgrave Electorate Office on 4056 3175 or email Mulgrave@parliament.qld.gov.au.