A chaotic 3200 kilometre rally battled with floods, COVID-19, and a stranded stretch-limo on its quest to raise money for cancer research and treatment.
The Rotary Club of Orange Daybreak's 2022 'Cruisin' Along Trek' spanned 10 towns from NSW to Queensland and back again between April 28 and May 7, with $81,000 collected through entry fees, private donations, and raffles.
"We do this because [the Orange Clinical Cancer Trials Unit in NSW's Central West] relies on outside sources," organiser Bruce Smith said.
"The research they do out there is actually a worldwide thing, and they are one of the leaders - the ultimate aim is to find a cure for cancer."
While 26 cars and 54 people started the rally, a COVID-19 outbreak midway meant just six cars and 17 people made it to the finish.
The rally started in Orange and went to Condobolin in Central West NSW, made its way to the outback town of Bourke, then into outback Queensland at Cunnumulla, to Charleville, Barcaldine, Emerald, Roma and then back into NSW to Lightning Ridge, Condobolin before home again to Orange in the state's Central West.
A string of floods in Northern NSW also forced an overhaul of the event, with parts of the planned-route completely submerged.
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Orange man Mick O'Neill brought his nine-metre Ford stretch limousine on the trek, and encountered manoeuvrability problems even in the smallest of towns.
The six-wheeler was attempting a U-turn at Wyandra, a town in outback Queensland, when it became beached on a land bank and had to be pulled off by two other vehicles.
Medical Oncologist Doctor Robert Zielinski from Orange Hospital in NSW's Central West described the fundraiser as "amazing," and estimated the money would provide trials for "eight to 10 people".
"It allows us to expand our footprint ... which will allow more patients to remain in our community," Dr Zielinski said.
"It's far more palatable for anyone with cancer to stay here, than trying to get over the physical and mental hurdles of travelling back and forth from Sydney.
"It's just really a humbling experience ... it really re-energises us knowing what we're doing is regarded."
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