New South Wales dad Perry Gilsenan has been recognised for his “unwavering support and dedication” to raising awareness and funds for Down syndrome research with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) presented on Australia Day.
Mr Gilsenan was inspired to help the Down syndrome community after the support he and his wife Jane received for their daughter Grace, who has Down syndrome.
Twelve years ago, Mr Gilsenan established the annual Scrapheap Adventure Ride fundraising event to raise money and awareness for Down syndrome research and support.
The ride draws in a diverse range of community participants from far and wide across the Eastern states, and involves motorcycle enthusiasts purchasing a bike for no more than $1000 and doing it up for an adventure ride through the Australian outback.
Since it began, Mr Gilsenan and his supporters have raised more than $800,000 through the initiative, with 100 percent of the funds raised donated to Down Syndrome New South Wales (NSW) or Down Syndrome Australia.
“I am truly humbled to receive the Order Of Australia award… I am also thankful for all others involved in Down syndrome support and advocacy,” says Mr Gilsenan in a post on Scrapheap Adventure Ride’s Facebook page.
“We have amazing teams from country towns and cities alike, and all are tireless workers in their local communities.
“Whether running BBQ fundraisers or other weekend events, they are always a passionate and positive voice for those with Down syndrome, reminding others of their contributions and value as individuals in our society.
“I’m thankful for my wife Jane and daughters Grace and Molly, for their constant support and encouragement – even with the late nights in the shed building bikes for the Scrapheap Adventure Ride.”
In a statement on their website, Down Syndrome NSW acknowledge Mr Gilsenan for his unwavering support and dedication to the Down syndrome community.
“Mr Gilsenan is an absolute inspiration to all those that have the opportunity to know him.
“With (his) unswerving passion and dedication, the host communities for the ride destination embrace the event and band together with the riders and their supporters to form a passionate and caring network for each other and people with Down syndrome while raising much needed funds.”