Greg ‘Kell’ Kelly is a 58-year-old Bonogin local, a Harley-Davidson rider, father, grandfather, former executive, and a man on a mission – to raise Australia's awareness of dementia.
“It’s the second biggest killer in Australia, and no one knows it,” Kell said.
His message is urgent. He has travelled a long way since a visit to the doctor in January led to a diagnosis, and he plans to travel further still.
“I started on August 12 in Gold Coast, and finish on October 21 at 2.30pm at Harley Davidson, Gold Coast.”
Kell knows his story well, he has told it to many reporters, but any interruptions or questions can throw him off track.
Kell is absolutely determined that Australians should know the facts about the degenerative brain disease.
“It’s not a mental illness, it’s a brain disease. It erodes the brain, you can see it on a scan,” Kell said.
“It’s a very aggressive disease in young people. It is terminal. I have been given six to eight years.
“I said, ‘well, how do you die from dementia?’ This is how they explained it. ‘Greg, in five years you’ll be forgetting family and friends. Well, your brain is forgetting everything. It forgets how to swallow, how to work your organs. You end up with infection and organ failure,” Kell said.
It’s bleak, but true.
Since 2011, the number of Australians dying from dementia has jumped from 9864 (6.71 percent) of all deaths to 13,126 (8.28 per cent).
Dementia includes Alzheimers and Parkinson’s diseases, Vascular Dementia, Mixed Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia (affecting the frontal lobe of the brain), and many more.
Mr Kelly said dementia is predicted to become Australia’s number one killer in the next five to 10 years. It is already the leading cause of death in women at 8447 (11.02 per cent).
“I want us to talk about a solution. I come with a problem, but I come with a solution.”
“We get the top 500 companies in Australia, and they put a half a cent of every dollar profit, that’s half a per cent of their profit into an account; ‘Medical Research Fund’. And that money is then distributed to research into the top 10 killers,” Kel said.
Alzheimer’s Australia says the number of Australians living with dementia is 413,106, and expected to reach 536,000 by 2025.
Support Kell’s Ride at facebook.com/kellsride/