Monkey Mia Kids Run Cairns for Parkinson’s Research
Tuesday, 28th May 2024

Monkey Mia Kids run Cairns for Parkinson's Research

Long-time Shake It Up supporters and fundraising champions, the Monkey Mia Boys, have done desert trips, rides across the country and even online art auctions – all in the pursuit of a cure for Parkinson’s, contributing to a huge grand total over the years of more than $260,000 for research! This year, James, Kate and Alice are following in the footsteps of their Dad Andrew Urquhart, one of the original Monkey Mia Boys group. We spoke with them all about their family fundraising journey, how their Dad inspires them, and their advice for those wanting to do something in support of Parkinson’s research.

Tell us all about ‘Monkey Mia Kids Run Cairns’. How did this idea come about?

Well, we’re following in Dad’s footsteps really! It’s a little bit of a story. Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s nearly 10 years ago, Dad has thrown himself into raising awareness of Parkinson’s and funds for Shake It Up, in quite an incredible way. The vehicle for most of the fundraising has been via the outback 4WD adventures he and a bunch of mates, including fellow Parkinson’s sufferer and great mate, Noel Passalaqua, have made over these years. The original trip back in 2018 was made by taking the route with the least bitumen as possible from the westernmost point of Australia to the easternmost point, being Monkey Mia to Byron Bay – hence the name “Monkey Mia Boys” was born. Over the following six years and four trips criss-crossing the country, the ‘Monkey Mia Boys’ have raised over $260,000 for Shake It Up.

Listen to Andrew Urquhart and Noel Passalaqua on the Shake It Up Show, talking about their personal Parkinson’s journeys and experience with the Monkey Mia Boys.

Inspired by what Dad and his mates have achieved during these trips, we have been talking about doing something ourselves to raise money for Parkinson’s – so this year, in a window where none of us have any broken bones or babies, we decided the three of us would do the Cairns Half Marathon and do our bit for Shake It Up. And with the Monkey Mia Boys looking as if they may not get a trip in this year, it was the perfect timing for us to pick up the baton for this year’s instalment from the “Monkey Mia” crew.

Have any of you run a half-marathon before?

We have run a few half-marathons between us, but it has been many years! The last official run the three of us did together was the Melbourne ‘Run For The Kids’ in 2017. Depending on how the bodies hold up, there is some optimistic discussion of trying to tick the full Marathon off the bucket list next time…watch this space!

How will you be training for the event?

Probably not as much as we should be! But once we locked ourselves in and signed up, we started pounding the pavement as much as we could, trying to get a decent ‘longer run’ in on the weekend and a few shorter ones during the week. The competitive spirit is strong between us, with plenty of photos and run statistics being shared post-run. The weekend just been we ran the Bellarine Rail Trail together, chalking up 16km between Drysdale and Queenscliff, and we have a couple more dates in the calendar for all three of us to get together for a long, slow run followed by a coffee and a bite to eat at the end. It’s motivating to have something to look forward to at the finish line!

We have nine kids between us, so a big thanks goes to our (very patient) other halves letting us head out for a few hours each weekend to get the km’s in our legs! Whilst we all live in Geelong, it’s actually quite rare that we get to spend much time as the three of us together, so that’s also been nice!

Why are you passionate about raising funds and awareness for Parkinson’s research?

This is an easy one for us. Dad’s own passion and dedication to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson’s has inspired us beyond words. Since Dad’s diagnosis, not once has he let his condition bring him down or define him, but has fought his own battle with strength, courage, and an unselfish determination to help make a difference. We’re all so incredibly proud of the way he has turned his own story into a positive for so many others, year after year setting out to raise more and more awareness and funds for Parkinson’s Disease.

We grew up in the bush and Dad has always been a huge contributor to the community, on every local board or committee, volunteering his time, be it helping to save the local hospital or rebuilding the community golf club. So to see this sense of giving take on a whole new life through his Parkinson’s is true to form, but it is something we’re constantly in awe of.

We also know that Dad is one of so many suffering from Parkinson’s disease in Australia and sadly it’s a growing number, so if we can play our small part in raising money for research, and to help find a cure, we’re on board.

And lastly, we’re massive fans of Shake It Up! Throughout Dad’s Parkinson’s journey, he has made some fantastic connections with some of the Shake It Up crew and there’s something very warm and fuzzy about knowing the Foundation is run by a great bunch of passionate, dedicated, and genuine people.

What is your advice for others wanting to make a difference?

Well Dad would say, just do it. Find something you’re passionate about and go for gold! Pick that one thing that you care deeply about and spread the word. Tell your story, people want to hear it, and people love giving for a great cause. And like the original ‘Monkey Mia Boys’, if you can do something you enjoy with mates while making a difference, then even better.

You can support the Monkey Mia Kids achieve their $20,000 fundraising goal for Parkinson’s research here.