Physiotherapy student Sommer Tuson and 20 colleagues from Griffith University are currently cycling the 900km from the Gold Coast to Sydney in support of Cystic Fibrosis and will cross the finish line at The Children's Hospital at Westmead on Wednesday 3 December 2008 at 2.00 pm.
Ms Tuson, who will graduate with a double degree in physiotherapy and exercise science in December, has been living with Cystic Fibrosis for 27 years.
The disease, one of the most common inherited disorders in Australia, is caused by faulty gene that affects mainly the lungs and digestive system. Medical research and subsequent treatment advances over recent decades have greatly increased the life expectancy and quality of life for people diagnosed with the disease.
Ms Tuson said physiotherapists play a significant role in the daily management of the disease.
"Physios help people with cystic fibrosis to clear the excess secretions from their lungs with a number of manual techniques and breathing devices to open up their airways. They also help plan and encourage regular exercise programs," she said.
Ms Tuson said growing up in rural Tasmania meant her mother was always driving her to dancing classes and weekend sports including athletics, netball and martial arts.
"My mother was very regimented in my treatment with physiotherapy and medications and by keeping me really active. I am lucky to be so well at my age."
While she says her childhood exposure to physiotherapists may have subconsciously influenced her choice of profession, it was also a desire to make a difference in other people's lives.
Ms Tuson and her dedicated group riders hope to improve awareness of Cystic Fibrosis and have been aiming to raise $50,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Australia as they cycle down the coast.
"It is inspiring to see Sommer with support of her friends take on this epic ride to help raise funds and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis." said Terry Stewart CEO of Cystic Fibrosis Australia. "Funds raised from this great effort will go towards research funding." he said.
The cyclists left Griffith University's Gold Coast campus on Monday, November 24 at 8.30am after a farewell breakfast with their supporters. Their overnight pit stops are Brunswick Heads, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Taree, Bulahdelah, Newcastle and Gosford before riding into Sydney on Wednesday, December 3.