Mr Kelly’s road trip, called Kell’s Ride for the Future, aims to raise awareness of early-onset dementia, from which Mr Kelly personally suffers. During the ride, he will be visiting medical experts, local communities, and dementia sufferers to generate a conversation and help raise awareness of the issue.
The term “early-onset dementia” is used to describe any form of dementia that develops in people under the age of 65.
According to Alzheimers New Zealand, there are about 3000 Kiwis living with early-onset dementia. While factors including genetics or head injury can increase the chances of early-onset dementia developing, very little is currently known about how the condition develops.
The number of Kiwis suffering from all forms of dementia is expected to triple by 2050.
Nathan Lee, Mobil’s Business Development Manager, says the fuel company is proud to support Mr Kelly in driving such an important message.
“When Mr Kelly approached us wanting to raise awareness for this serious issue, we felt our extensive network of service stations across New Zealand would enable us to provide him with some vital support,” says Mr Lee.
“Many people within our organisation have been impacted by dementia in some way, and it’s an issue many other Kiwis are facing. There’s so much uncertainty around early-onset dementia, so it will mean a lot to those suffering from the illness, and the families of those with early-onset dementia, to have Mr Kelly visit their town to tell his story and highlight the cause,” he says.
Greg Kelly prepares to embark on his tour of New Zealand
When diagnosed three years ago, Greg Kelly was given between six and ten years to live, and has since been staring down a degenerative illness with no known cure.
“I don’t think we can get answers in enough time for me, but if I can do something to turn money into research and get answers for others and their families, and for my grandkids, then I’ll count that as a win,” he says.
Mr Kelly’s journey will take just over a month, beginning in Auckland on Monday 24 September at John Andrew Ford, before he rides to Paihia, and then all the way to Invercargill before returning to Auckland on Saturday 27 October.
Along the way Mr Kelly will be joined by a number of motorcycle enthusiast groups, including the HOGS from Tauranga (Harley Owners Group), many of whom will join him on various legs of the journey.
“I’m calling on anyone who rides a motorcycle to come and join me. Bikers are such a caring community, and that’s true all around the world. If you’re on the side of the road and you need help, it doesn’t matter what you’re riding, these guys will give you a hand,” says Mr Kelly.
Greg Kelly had a successful career as a financial services executive, but knew something was wrong when he struggled to figure out the change for a cup of coffee.
“Even though there is no cure, you need to get a diagnosis early to get the right kind of medication to prolong your life.”
Greg Kelly and a member of the Auckland chapter of the HOGs prepare to embark
Kells has been riding his motorcycle since he was 10 years old and he doesn’t intend to stop any time soon. Having successfully completed a circumnavigation of Australia, and now taking on New Zealand, his next goal is to ride his Harley across the USA.
Mr Kelly is travelling alongside his wife, Janet, who will be piloting the support vehicle during their tour.
Mobil has contributed $3,500 worth of fuel to support Greg and Janet while they tour New Zealand to increase knowledge about early-onset dementia.