By ROSIE WATERLAND
“Hey, where are we again?”
Samuel Johnson has ridden through so many towns since starting his country-wide unicycle ride that he seems a bit stumped when I ask his location. He gets his answer from one of the team.
“A few hundred kilometres outside of Perth apparently!” he says, laughing.
So why is Sam in the middle of nowhere on a unicycle?
Because he loves his sister.
If you haven’t heard of the Love Your Sister campaign, here’s a rundown:
Sam’s sister Connie is 35 and the mother of two beautiful boys. She’s also dying of breast cancer. Connie’s had cancer three times in her life: the first time at 11 and the second at 22. Both times she fought hard to beat it, and won. This time however, Connie was diagnosed too late, and now the cancer has spread to her lungs, liver, pelvis, spine and knee. She has been given 6 – 12 months to live.
Upon learning she was terminal, Sam asked her what she wanted her legacy to be. “I said if I could just save one mum from having to say goodbye to her kids then, you know, I’d die happy,” she told me from her Melbourne home.
And that was all Sam needed to get started.
“A brother is very protective of his sisters,” Sam says. “And when you don’t feel like you can do anything to help it breaks your heart. And this is something that I could do and that she wanted me to do.”
So Sam and Connie set to work creating the Love Your Sister challenge. The goal? To raise one $1 million for breast cancer research and spread breast cancer awareness. How to do that? Set the world record for the longest distance travelled on a unicycle, of course.
Sam started riding in February of this year and hopes to wrap the whole thing up in 12 months. In order to beat the world record, he needs to ride over 14,600 kilometres. He’s aiming for 17,000, “but I’ve got my heart set on the big 20,” he says.
There are events and fundraisers held by generous volunteers in most towns he rides through (go here to see how you can help out), and so far the team have managed to raise a whopping $589,868. Not bad for an idea that started out as a dare in the kitchen.
But why the unicycle? Sam explains: “Well, to raise the amount of money we wanted to raise, we needed to do something that hadn’t been done. So it was either a unicycle or a pogo stick. And I’m getting older – my knees aren’t that great – so it was decided I’d do the unicycle.”
Their message is simple: ‘Don’t fall into the booby-trap, be breast aware!’
But given it’s a such a long journey, what about, you know, down there?
“I think there’s a saddle shape permanently indented on my buttocks… And I won’t get into the ball situation… I might have done some permanent damage!”
But worth it? “Absolutely.”