Gold Coast man rides Harley-Davidson to Canberra to raise funds for dementia
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Gold Coast man rides Harley-Davidson to Canberra to raise funds for dementia

Greg Kelly was just 59 when he was diagnosed with dementia.

Medical authorities tried to tell him it was depression. He knew otherwise.

Gold Coast man Greg Kelly is riding a Harley-Davidson to raise funds and awareness for the 413,000 Australians living with dementia.

Gold Coast man Greg Kelly is riding a Harley-Davidson to raise funds and awareness for the 413,000 Australians living with dementia.Credit:WyndhamAP.com

He'd worked for 42 years in the finance sector, the latter years as an executive, and he was worried.

"I was struggling to organise my day, plan my day, struggling to do my work," he said.

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Greg Kelly with Ita Buttrose, Alzheimer's Australia national ambassador.

Greg Kelly with Ita Buttrose, Alzheimer's Australia national ambassador.

"Once I couldn't work how much change I got from a cup of coffee, I knew I had a problem and it wasn't depression."

The Gold Coast man was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia at the age of 59, one of the 25,000 Australians living with younger onset dementia, that is anyone diagnosed under the age of 65.

The diagnosis was confirmed by further assessment by the Brain Mind Centre, University of Sydney in February this year.

Now aged 61, Greg said his prognosis was not good.

Greg Kelly, who has dementia, and his medical assistance dog Pep.

Greg Kelly, who has dementia, and his medical assistance dog Pep.

"It's a terminal disease," he said.

"In five or six years I won't know my family or friends. Two years after that, I'll likely die from organ failure.

"But I will fight this disease with everything I have."

Part of that defiance is riding a Harley-Davidson around Australia to raise funds and awareness for the 413,000 Australians living with dementia.

The father and grandfather arrives in Canberra on Friday, August 18, to meet with local Alzheimer's and dementia groups and to lobby local and federal politicians.

Greg will be speaking on Saturday, August 19 from 10am to at Canberra Harley-Davidson on Canberra Avenue, Fyshwick.

The Canberra chapter of HOGs (Harley Owners' Group) will be putting on a barbecue before Greg takes a ride around the sights of Canberra.

Greg will donate the money he raises in each location to a number of dementia organisations, including Alzheimer's Australia, The Frontotemporal Dementia Association, University of Queensland's Queensland Brain Institute and Frontier Research at the Brain and Mind Centre.

"More often than not, people like me who receive a diagnosis have young families, and all the financial and personal pressures of life are still happening around them," he said.

"I am not taking this lying down. I will fight this disease with my remaining skills and experience. I'm determined to shine a light on frontotemporal and younger onset dementia.

"It is something I will live with for the rest of my life but I am determined to make a difference while I still can."

Alzheimer's Australia CEO Maree McCabe sincerely thanked Greg and his family for efforts.

"An increased awareness about dementia will result in reducing stigma and social isolation and elevating awareness and understanding. This gets people talking about dementia and seeking support earlier," Ms McCabe said.

A documentary team from the Gold Coast is following Greg's story and will join him at select locations along the way.

Donations can be made to his gofundme page.

Megan Doherty is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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