Wednesday, 29 February 2012

NSW SMIDDY - The Doug and David Factor

How did NSW Smiddy come about?
In 2007 Bottlemart came on board as a sponsor for the second running of the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge from Brisbane to Townsville. In 2008 they increased their sponsorship to become our very first naming rights sponsor. Bottlemart is a subsidiary of a company called Liquor Marketing Group, or LMG, and the CEO, Doug Misener, is not just a keen cyclist but lives and breathes the sport. That same year in 2008, Doug made a decision that would cement the current professional but friendly relationship that exists between LMG and Smiling for Smiddy up to this day. For it was in that year that Doug signed up, along with David Gyte, who was the Marketing manager for LMG in Qld and also a super keen cyclist, who had a strong influence on Doug's decision to do his first Smiddy Challenge to Townsville. Which in turn lead to his eventual decision to bring Smiddy to NSW.

The Smiddy effect on Doug and David
For those reading this that have yet to complete a Smiddy event; what happens out there on the road is home to an amazing transgression. Riders sign up every year and prepare themselves physically for their chosen event, but not until actually in the thick of it does the realisation hit that this is not just a physical challenge but an extremely mental one. To this day I can still recall exactly the words that Doug spoke at our nightly function in Jambin, which was on day three with over 650 kilometres of riding behind us; Doug said: "As long as I am CEO of LMG, Bottlemart will always be associated with Smiling for Smiddy." You see, Doug had just spent three grueling days where he saw what the riders put themselves through for up to eight hours a day. He saw the incredible kindness and generosity of the locals at each of the community functions. He felt the joy that our educational and awareness visit to Thangool Primary School brought the kids. He witnessed firsthand the heartbreaking stories from riders and locals that had lost love ones to cancer. In just three days Doug had left the business world behind and made the switch from a sponsor and a rider, to a rider and a sponsor who now fully understood what Smiling for Smiddy was all about and the people that we gave hope to through our actions.

Doug's extremely tough 2008 Smiddy challenge
Now that year that Doug and David joined us will go down in Smiddy history as recording one of the hottest September's on record with daily temperatures closing in on the high 30's for all eight days of the Challenge. Doug kept it pretty quiet but he came into the event not entirely healthy. And by the end of day two's 242 kilometre stage into Eisdvold he knew he was in trouble once the nose bleeds began and dehydration had set in. His spirits were high, his mind strong but his body was rebelling at the eight hour days in the saddle. But Doug being the battle hard soldier that he is soldiered on and the further he went the more he suffered, until with 1200 kilometres in his legs and six days completed of the eight day journey, his body said enough is enough and he was forced to retire after the finish into Belyando Crossing. So it was on the morning of day seven we awoke to the news that Doug was on his way home to Sydney. It wasn't until we finished in Townsville that we received news of just how crook he had become. Doug lost close to seven kilograms in body weight and it was a good month before he fully recovered. To this day I still admire his dedication to finish, but mostly I respect the fact that he not only knew when it was time to stop, but that he was strong enough to stop! David went on to finish his first Smiddy Challenge that year, but I know his journey was incomplete at the loss of Doug over those last two days. Their relationship is one of a great friendship and utmost respect for each other in the boardroom,as well as on the bike.

Bottlemart support above and beyond for Smiddy!
Now even though Doug has never returned to finish those last two days he was infected by the Smiddy spirit and vowed to help Smiddy in the fight against cancer by each year continuing as naming rights sponsor. Plus on top of this amazing support Bottlemart fundraise for Smiling for Smiddy, which brings in over $100,000 each year for our cause. Doug and David's next step was creating NSW Smiddy and between them and their band of enthusiastic LMG co-workers, plus the backing of the Smiddy crew, this event became a reality in March of 2011. The event was held over four days over a hilly and scenic 600 kilometres, with invites extended to bike riders who worked within the liquor industry and suppliers to LMG. That year the ride raised a staggering amount of $140,000 with just 30 riders participating. It was an unequivocal success and Doug and David vowed that there would be a second NSW Smiddy in 2012, and true to their word here we are today; a day out from starting the event on February 29, with the threat of drenching rain for day one and more rain for the next two after that, but regardless of what the weather does the event will proceed and the field of 32 riders and nine road crew members will be out there doing their bit in the battle against cancer.

Smiling for Smiddy is so grateful
On behalf of Smiling for Smiddy I would like to pass on our greatest appreciation to Doug and David and their tireless machine of workers at LMG that helped make this event possible. I am in awe of a company and it's workers that have the gall to say; "enough is enough, time to pull up our sleeves and don the gloves, because we are helping Smiling for Smiddy to fight this terrible disease head on." The amount of money that LMG and Bottlemart have helped to raise for us over the past six years is in excess of half a million dollars! Without your belief and passion in Smiddy none of this would have been possible and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Be sure to say tuned this week to Sharky's blog for a daily update over the next four eventful days.



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