By Michelle Beaven
DETERMINATION and a ‘never give up’ attitude has resulted in Matthew Campbell of Two Rocks completing a gruelling bike ride and raising almost $50,000 for Telethon.
Mr Campbell left Cable Beach in Broome on June 12 and some days cycled up to 123km.
He arrived to much fanfare from residents, businesses and even a special appearance from Fat Cat in Two Rocks earlier this week after 22 days on the road.
What makes the feat even more amazing is that the 35-year-old has overcome adversity having suffered two strokes within six months around the age of five and a prognosis that he would never walk or talk again.
Matt spent a lot of time at PMH with many therapists by his side, where he drew on his courage and a strong will to make the most of a difficult situation.
Mr Campbell’s mother Debbie Hartley said her son underwent hours of physio and occupational therapy and was fed via a nasal gastric tube.
“Fat Cat came to see him, oh my, that was the best day, he started laughing and moved his legs and we were over the moon,” she said.
“Eventually, he returned to kindy, went on to went to Castlereagh Special School and after two years he was attending a mainstream school.”
At the age of 10, Mr Campbell had another setback.
“He had an MRI and it was discovered that the blood vessels at the base of his brain were closing up, Mrs Hartley said.
“We were told he could have an operation at a 50-50 chance of survival, warfarin to thin his blood or stay as he was – we chose the latter.
“Matthew and I stayed at Ronald McDonald House for two weeks while the doctors were doing tests and determining his future.”
Mrs Hartley said her son had risen above the difficulties in his life with his disability by taking advantage of any opportunity to prove himself and working when he could get work, including as a cleaner at a detention centre in Derby.
Mr Campbell still has a speech impairment and a limp, but that has not stopped him from making the best of his life, which he shares with his wife Luisa and four-year old son Axel.
In preparation for the ride, Mr Campbell spent many hours building up his strength and fitness at the gym, losing more than 20kg in the process.
Mr Campbell said finishing the ride was at times more of a mental struggle than a physical test.
“I wanted to make a difference,” he said.
“I’m inspired by the work of Telethon and wanted to support them by raising money as part of my participation in the Telethon Fundraising Family.
“The more people that know about Telethon, the greater their impact, so please also spread the word by sharing my page with your friends and family.
“Thank you in advance for your generosity, it means a lot.”
Mr Campbell’s stepfather accompanied him on the journey, following in a support vehicle.
This is not the end of Mr Campbell’s amazing feats.
Although having a well-earned rest this week he says he is already “bored” and keen to get back to the gym.
He is also considering a future challenge, possible competing in the next Rottnest swim or paddling 400km down the Murray River.
“The ride was a personal goal and I had been contemplating it since I was about 18 years old,” he said.
It’s Telethon’s 50th year and 30 years since Mr Campbell experienced his first stroke.
If you would like to help Matt boost his tally for Telethon by donating, go to https://tff.everydayhero.com/au/matt-s-ride-for-telethon facebook.com/mattspedalpower/
or follow him on @mattspedalpower