‘Old blokes’ cancer cure road trip goes the distance

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It started back in February of this year, when Mario Nearchou, 62, decided to band a group of friends together in the hope of achieving one common goal – raising funds to cure cancer.

But there was one catch. All members of the group had to be both “car enthusiasts” and “over the age of 50,” essentially creating what has come to be fondly known as “Old Blokes Driving for a Cancer Cure.”

The impressive ‘Old Blokes‘ group comprises of Sydney-based members Mario Nearchou, Harry Moustakas, Nick Harris, Michael Skyllas, John Assarapin and Bob Hickman. 90 per cent of them, including Mario, are Greek.

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Mario (L) is all smiles with part of ‘Old Blokes’ group, wearing t-shirts for their cause..

‘Old Blokes’ took their journey through the roads of NSW’s Central West in April this year, where the motivation for their cause only fuelled them further in raising awareness.

Mario left for the trip at a time when one of his daughters was about to give birth and arrived back just in time to see his other daughter give birth as well, in the same hospital.

For the past nine months, alongside all other life pursuits and aside from the big road-trip, ‘Old Blokes’ has generated public involvement through arranging ‘cars and coffee’ meetups, sausage sizzles with prizes for raffles, charity auctions and more, all in the pursuit of gathering whatever funds they could for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF).

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‘Old Blokes’ with their cars.

The last time The Greek Herald spoke to ‘Old Blokes’ founder Mario was back in May, where the group’s five-day road trip saw $30,000 gathered from their hard work and community engagement. The group then raised another $50,000 in one night at a gala held at Doltone House in June.

Today, ‘Old Blokes’ has raised over $100,000 in donations.

Mario told The Greek Herald today he had “high hopes” for the group, but never imagined such immense support from the public.

“I thought $30,000 and another $50,000 on top was a lot, but this is incredible,” he said, as he took a long breath in.

‘If I’m capable of doing this, then it’s my calling’

The initial inspiration for this noble pursuit came from what many of us have come to experience – the inexplicable grief of losing a loved one to cancer. For Mario, it was his father and father-in-law, among other friends and colleagues of his, who gave him the strength to start his journey with ‘Old Blokes.’

“It takes work but if I’m capable of doing this, then it’s my calling. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Mario said.

On November 15, the group visited The Lodge in Canberra for the 2023 ACRF Grant Awards, where the ‘Old Blokes’ also met the Governor General of Australia, David Hurley.

Old-Blokes-next-to-Gymea-Greek-Orthodox-Church-on-the-24th-November-ready-to-go-on-their-Lunch-drive-which-raised-the-final-funds-that-pushed-us-over-the-100K-scaled.jpg
‘Old Blokes’ with the Governor-General of Australia, David Hurley at The Lodge in Canberra for the 2023 ACRF Grant Awards.

It wasn’t until the most recent lunch drive on Friday, November 24 at the Lagoon restaurant in Wollongong however, where the funds raised helped push the group’s total to just over $100,000.

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‘Old Blokes’ at the big lunch drive in Wollongong.
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Family of ‘Old Blokes’ at the big lunch drive in Wollongong.

A few days later, on Tuesday, November 28 the ‘Old Blokes’ also attended a Celebration Dinner at the Taronga Centre in Mosman, which they had been formally invited to by the ACRF Chair, Tom Dery AO.

“It was a wonderful night. It was great to be able to further thank everyone for their support,” Mario said.

‘Old Blokes’ at the Celebration Dinner at the Taronga Centre in Mosman, which they had been formally invited to by the ACRF Chair, Tom Dery AO.

Mario described the ACRF’s members as “wonderful people” making a “world of change.”

“Brain cancer never used to get a lot of funding, but with this now… we have come leaps and bounds with the help of [ACRF] fundraising for cancer research,” he added.

‘We’re not going to stop’

As for his ‘Old Blokes’ group, Mario gushed over each member with warming sentiments.

“They are a wonderful group to be involved with… they have made me feel it, they’ve made me see it,” he said.

Mario aims to keep the ‘Old Blokes’ convoy of classical cars – from Mercedes to Porsches to his very own 1966 cream-coloured Volkswagen Beetle – on the road and expressed his hope for the group to get “bigger and better.”

“The goal is to continue on, whether that be hosting a fundraiser each year or every two years. The team are ready to keep working hard. We’re not going to stop,” he said.

Mario also visited the ACRF main office on Wednesday, December 6 to present a novelty cheque of all the funds gathered so far to them.

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Delivering the cheque to the ACRF.

If you, or anyone you know wants to join the legacy, visit: mycause or email: oldblokesforcancer@gmail.com to help Mario and his group of ‘Old Blokes’ continue their journey in raising funds for a cancer cure.

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