On Sunday September 29, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride Wollongong is tipped for another bumper year fundraising for charity partner, The Movember Foundation. In 2018 – just its second year – the Ride more than tripled its inaugural total to raise $65,215. In 2019, it is set to skyrocket further.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was founded in 2012 by Mark Hawwa in Sydney and has since become a worldwide phenomenon. It was introduced to Wollongong by Jane and the team at City Coast Motorcycles in 2017.
Dealer Principal Timothy Sim says it is special to watch how the The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride brings vintage and classic motorcyclists together to help people in need. Enthusiasm for the Illawarra event has grown rapidly; in 2018 Wollongong ranked 20th in the world out of 648 rides.
“Every year it just keeps getting better and better,” Timothy said.
Organiser Jane Sim describes The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride as emotional on many levels:
“On the surface it is a colourful spectacle with people dressed in their finery and showing off their beautiful bikes. On the next level there is the comradery, with friendships formed and new memories made. But at the heart of it all we’re riding for a very serious reason: Over one million men are losing their lives annually to suicide and prostate cancer. This touches us all. We are riding for awareness of these causes and to help Movember to help more men.”
Movember Community Ambassador Mark Kelly struggled with mental health in his early twenties. He didn’t have any strategies in place to handle his depression. After seeking help from his GP and getting a mental health plan, he hasn’t looked back.
“Knowing that there were others out there like me who did not have the tools to deal with mental health issues, I found Movember as a fun way to help spread awareness and use my story as a motivator for others to seek help,” Mark said.
“The DGR is an excellent event as it helps to keep the message of Movember going year-round. It is an event that promotes friendship, enjoyment and catches the eye of the public in a unique way,” he said.
Jane acknowledges the Wollongong event would not be possible without the support of local sponsors and clubs.
“We are so fortunate to have the region’s businesses backing our event; Clutch Moto, Coal Coast Emporium and Towradgi Beach Hotel have all supplied prizes to give further incentive to participants. Official photographers, Keogh’s Vision Photography donates 50% of their revenue from images purchased on the day and Sarah’s Coffee Van also shares a portion of her takings. We are also indebted to the Illawarra Classic Motorcycle Club who contribute a sizeable donation every year.
Preparation for The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride begins months in advance, working with Wollongong City Council and the Wollongong Local Area Command. A lot of thought goes in to planning a route suitable for vintage motorcycles and sidecars requiring slower roads.
“There is a lot to take into consideration when organising the Ride. Not-to-forget our region’s divine scenery – we really are spoiled in the Illawarra! I think you would be hard-pressed to find anything like it anywhere else in the world,” Jane said.