Firefighters turn their hoses on cancer

Firefighters will trade in their engines for motorbikes this month as they ride the length of the country to raise money for the Cancer Society.

The ride also honours firefighters who have been lost to cancer, such as Ponsonby firefighter Meki Ta'ufo'ou, who was just 30 when he died two years ago.

Mr Ta'ufo'ou, who featured in the 2012 New Zealand Firefighters Calendar, didn't even know he was sick when the photo was taken only months before he died in October, 2011.

His partner, Candace McNabb, says she felt obliged to take part in the Auckland to Invercargill ride, and it's a bonus that she just happens to love motorbikes.

"I obviously lost my partner to cancer, and the Fire Service have really been there for me," she said on Firstline this morning. "It makes me feel good to be able to raise money."

Last year firefighters raised $40,000, and hope to top that this year.

"I like that the money that we raise goes into research," says Ms McNabb. "There's so many cancer foundations and charities, lots of them look after people who already have it – but I'd really like to see people prevent it, or work to try and stop it."

Ride organiser Rob Appleton is based at the Ponsonby Fire Station where Mr Ta'ufo'ou worked. He says cancer is a "plague" that needs to be stopped.

"I'd attended quite a few Fire Service funerals for friends and colleagues in a very short amount of time, and I thought there had to be something that we could do to help out and to try and stop this happening as often as it does," he says.

"Initially it was just going to be a ride on bikes around the Auckland stations, shaking our buckets and asking the guys for a bit of coin; and then I started getting emails from across the country, and I guess the ride was born from that."

This year he's expecting as many as 300 people to take part in the ride, in part or full. Ms McNabb will only be riding as far as Wellington, as she and Mr Ta'ufo'ou have a young daughter she has to look after.

But that won't be stopping her bike-mad mother.

"She did the whole ride last year, and she aims to do the whole ride this year as well," says Mr McNabb.

In addition to the ride, there will also be a family day at the Ponsonby Fire Station on November 9.

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source: newshub archive