Inspired by the movie The Bucket List, the Race4Life Wish List Service provides thrills and fulfils dreams for those with a terminal illness. Hick Bros is helping make those wishes come true. By MARY SEARLE BELL.
RACE4LIFE HAS A SIMPLE AIM: “To enable people living with life-limiting illness to realise dreams that they and their families can cherish.” In other words, the charity grants wishes to those who’ve received a terminal diagnosis, allowing them to fulfil a dream while they are still physically able but which they are unable to fund themselves.
For some, it’s an exhilarating ride around a race track in a high-powered car; for others it’s a trip to visit family or even something as simple as a special meal.
It all began nine years ago. Viv James was working in palliative care for Mercy Hospice in Auckland. Her role was establishing the Opening Doors Programme, aimed at improving the quality of life for people living with a life-limiting illness.
Viv approached Hicks Bros managing director Mark Cole, a keen racing car driver, and asked him if he could arrange a ride in a race car for a few terminally ill patients. Mark had been racing cars for years and was happy to share the thrill of
That first phone call to Mark was regarding just four patients, however, by the time the day at the track arrived, 18 patients were signed up to experience the buzz.
The day was such a roaring success that it was decided it should become an annual event, and thus, Race4Life was born.
The event has grown and developed considerably over the years. In March this year it provided thrills to 80 palliative care patients from nine hospices. Along with the race cars, there are now helicopter, truck and motorbike rides.
Naturally, the number of sponsors and helpers has increased along with the event. The race cars are supplied by a team of racing enthusiasts, while Continental Cars donates the use of exotic cars like Lamborghinis and Ferraris. Oceania Helicopters supplies the choppers, Envirowaste the big trucks and a number of enthusiasts share their Harley Davidsons and other motorcycles. All up, around 150 volunteers are involved in this day of opportunity.
When Viv resigned her role at Mercy Hospice a couple of years ago, the organisation wasn’t keen to continue with the race day but Viv, Mark and others saw the need for this event. Consequently, they set up the Race4Life Trust, with Viv in the role of CEO and Mark as chair.
From chatting to patients at the track days, it became apparent that there were a good many unfulfilled desires amongst those who had been given a terminal diagnosis. So the trust set up its Wish List Service.
“We’ve brought families together in special places, helped communities arrange weddings and organised special treats for people wanting to live life to its fullest before they die,”
Race4Life Wish List Service is the only one of its kind in New Zealand. Currently it’s granting about two wishes a week, and demand is increasing.
Mark says the trust is growing and they’re keen to harness more support.
“The risk is we could easily be oversubscribed,” he says.
The time Mark gives to the trust is voluntary, and he estimates that it’s about 10 or more hours a week. This is on top of his role running Hicks Bros. The company is involved too, contributing financially to the charity as well as providing a truck at the track day.
Mark says the Race4Life is very important to the company: “It’s absolutely stunning the number of people living their lives under the threat of being limited by cancer and the like.”
Hick Bros is also involved in a number of other charitable causes – it has provided substantial funding support for its local Silverdale Rugby Club for many years now and also supports the Orewa Surf Lifesaving Club and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
Mark says he’s been keen on helping rescue services ever since he was “unfortunate enough to get a ride in the Westpac helicopter” following a motorbike accident.
• For more information on Race4Life, and to contribute, visit www.race4life.co.nz.