Red Sky Ride: How It All Began…

Red Sky Ride: How It All Began…

I grew up in a small country town called Nyabing which had less than 100 people in it and it was just the norm to help people out when they needed it.

I remember clearly as a child the community supporting families, particularly farming families where someone was seriously injured or killed in an accident with tasks like seeding, harvesting, shearing etc. to ensure they were looked after and that commitment to community has stayed with me.

Kim Gilbert with his wife, Christine during the Red Sky Ride

When our niece Carys went through her cancer journey in 2007 which unfortunately did not have a good outcome, I was disappointed in the medical system and the lack of support and at that point was not aware of Solaris Cancer Care. Through my contact with Deb Macksy from Aurenda, the co-founder of the Red Sky Ride, who had also lost her mother to cancer, I became aware of Solaris and the fantastic work the organisation did. However, we also became aware of their dire financial position.

As a result, Deb and I decided to organise a charity bike ride with a target of raising $1,000,000 over five years, to provide Solaris with the financial stability to not only continue to provide their services at Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital, but to also extend their operations to include other metropolitan centres and, importantly, services to rural West Australians.

I, then, had to tell my wife what we were wanting to do and I think Christine reluctantly agreed to the concept. We, then, had to convince the Board of Solaris that we were genuine and after a number of meetings and a personal guarantee that I would underwrite the event for the five year period, we were underway with the planning of the first RSR in 2008.

I can honestly say that without the support of Christine and our friends in mapping out the ride route, visiting the country towns to arrange accommodation, ensuring the appropriate nutrition would be available, including liaising with all the various CWA’s to provide sandwiches, cakes, biscuits etc. for riders for the day after we visited their town, the RSR would never have got off the ground.

I wish to recognise the support and sacrifice that my wife Christine and daughters Renae and Jordyn made for more than a decade to enable me to fulfill my commitment to Solaris and those who participated in the cancer journey which was not of their choosing.

Then with the assistance of my riding buddy Alan White, we established a training program that would enable any rider to participate in and complete the RSR, which we successfully did for ten years. It was then the challenge of finding enough other crazy riders willing to participate, raise funds and awareness of Solaris and the services they provide to the community.

I am very fortunate that Zenith Insurance Services has been a successful business for nearly 20 years, providing services and supporting organisations involved in the aged, community and disability services and it was therefore a natural extension of that involvement, to sponsor one of the teams in the RSR and give back to our community. This involvement included the whole team at Zenith who actively supported and fundraised, which has assisted in raising the much needed funds for Solaris over the ten years I participated in the RSR.

Whilst I retired from participating in the RSR after the 2018 ride, unfortunately my friend and long term office manager Lynda is now undergoing treatment for breast cancer and so in recognition of her cancer journey, Zenith Insurance Services will be the Platinum Sponsor of the RSR for 2021 and 2022 (the 15th anniversary). I will be participating in both rides and Christine will be participating in the e-bike section of the 2021 RSR.

Red Sky Ride – “Ordinary people doing something extraordinary to support those in our community less fortunate than ourselves.”

Kim Gilbert
Co-Founder, Red Sky Ride