BE BRAVE : BEFORE THE RIDE

I had these great plans of blogging everyday on the Be Brave ride, and instead I took the easier way of sharing through Instagram, which spoke right to my facebook pages. I had an incredible crew who would update my followers each day, and kept them up to date with my progress. I made it. I achieved a lot and now I am taking the time to blog for the next couple of days to share with you how I felt, how I feel now, and what is next. Because Be Brave is only just beginning.

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Before I get into day one of the ride, I want to share with you the difficulty of even getting the ride to happen. Behind all of the training, planning and determination was the struggle to even get the ride signed off to the extent that I would have sponsors follow through with their promises. {I came very close to just waking up one morning and going completely solo, no support vehicles, just me and my bike, and my voice}.

Sadly, I didn’t get the piece of paper they wanted, or needed. I got the one for me, which protected myself and my crew with public liability insurance to be riding on the road for child abuse awareness. I am still a bit taken back by the fact that people would promise and then remove their promises, but when it came down to it, this was not what the ride was about. It was about child abuse awareness, and if I had a big shiny vehicle with flashing lights, or my own vehicle with a single flashing light, it was still the same woman riding the bike with the same voice. One of my support crew team members, Chris, said to me, ‘supporters are different to sponsors.’ He was right and I had supporters, and a great deal of them. I think I felt alone. Even though, I planned for that to happen from the beginning, and the reason why I trained primarily on my own. That is the thing about child abuse, you feel alone in this fight to survive. For me it is now the fight for change. I am Hayley Blease, not the victim, not even the survivor anymore, I am the brave woman that is trying to use her voice to help others find theirs, or use mine for them.

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I think when you do things like this, you learn a lot about yourself as a person, and I learned a lot more about who I am and where I am headed in life. Turning up on day one at Freshwater Beach, my heart sank as that was the moment I knew this ride was truly just about Be Brave and my hope. I was incredibly lucky to have been greeted by two amazing friends that had driven all the way from Newcastle that morning just to see me off and ride with me. They had promised months ago, maybe even close to a year ago that they would come. And there they were, sitting at the Pilu cafe waiting for me to arrive. It was the one day I needed someone by my side, as I was honestly frightened of what was ahead of me.  I wasn’t questioning myself at all, it was more, questioning other people’s reactions, and how I could change people’s perceptions on child abuse and how important it truly is to talk, and listen.

Let me introduce you to my support crew.

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Meet Chris! He has been right by my side with child abuse awareness for years now. Chris came with me as I sat with former Premier, Mike Baird, and he has not stopped helping and supporting me, and the cause. Chris is the father I never had, and a great friend to me, and my children. He is now up there with a best friend, and father of the year for me, because, you don’t do what he did for me, and all of those children, for a week off. Chris was the man of reason on the Be Brave ride, he was my Man Friday, and he was the calm one. You could see times where he was a little worried for my safety, however a quick chat and he was reassured each time that together we all had this and I was safe because of them and their judgement on the road. Chris, you are a legend to me, and I know this will not be the last time we do an event like this together.

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Meet Toni! She is not only one of my best friends, Toni was the mother hen to all of us on the Be Brave ride. She was amazing! How can I thank the woman that kept us all together, and the woman that not only parented her own daughter, Indi, but my daughter, Keely too. Toni kept me in check with my emotions and she was the one that I knew I could go to if I needed that quiet cry on her shoulder. Toni’s work leading into the ride was incredible. Many phone calls between us, text messages and emails, and together we were organising a week on a bike that would be the beginning of change. I know Toni knows what she has done for me, and all of those children. She lived it with me, and she saw my face at the end of each ride, during the rides, and the beginning of each day. That same hope that was in my eyes, reflected in hers. Thank you Toni, you are an incredible woman.

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Meet Keely and Indi! Keely is my gorgeous 11 year old daughter. She knows what I have been through in my life, and why I was cycling each day to ride past the home I was abused in and to finish at Parliament House. She knows enough for it to be safe for her, and to know that her mum is being Brave for other children so they never go through what she went through. For months you were patient with me as we rushed around like idiots trying to get to school on time with my training. You laughed with me, cried with me, and you never once looked at me and said I shouldn’t be doing what I was doing. We held it together and nailed the first term of school along with the chaos of training for Be Brave. I love you dearly my beautiful girl, and I know you will never forget this week we had together. Be Brave is as much my hope, as it is yours and your brother’s. Indi is Toni’s gorgeous daughter, and wow was she just gorgeous.

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Indi is Keely’s new best friend, little sister, and I am sure Keely is Indi’s big sister and best friend too. Indi held my hand as we walked through Wollongong after breakfast as day 2 was about to commence. That moment was the moment I was given a whole lot more strength to start the solo riding for the remainder of the week. Because she reminded me, I wasn’t alone. She was right there with me, and I was doing this ride for her; for all children to have a safe life.

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Meet Neal! Where do I start with this awesome man? He came into my life right when I was in full planning and training for Be Brave, and without knowing me that well, he was in with all of his heart. He didn’t care if he walked away from the week as my new friend, or continued being my new boyfriend. Neal loved what I was doing for child abuse awareness and how I wanted to achieve it. He didn’t stop being considerate and generous in his support for the cause, and for me as a person. Neal drove support vehicle number one, the vehicle that was right behind me, protecting me from cars, and trucks. A pretty big job for a man that was getting to know me at a very fast speed. I would say Neal was the considerate one on the Be Brave ride. He had everyone’s feelings and best interest at heart. Neal was my emotional support. He made sure I was setup each night for the next day. Neal had my nutrition job, and I was fully loaded each day to have all of my nutrition plan on track. I look back on the week, and wonder how he did all of that, whilst keeping so composed and calm. There was no anger, no questioning me, or anyone else. He had my heart before Be Brave, and he surely has it now. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be right with me every step of the way with Be Brave, as my boyfriend.

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These incredible people that had my back, held my hand, played ‘eye of a tiger,’ laughed with me, cried with me, and not once lost hope or sight of Be Brave all hold a big place in my heart. I hope that one day they can look back on the week, and remember it as a time that they too made a difference in a child’s life, an adult’s life, and that in this one Be Brave week, they may just have saved one child from abuse.

This one Be Brave week, you all made a difference in my life. Each one of you showed me that I am not alone in the fight for child abuse awareness, and I never will be again. Yes, it was a solo ride, and at times it hurt the child within, but right in my 2 way radio ear, was two voices telling me that I wasn’t alone.

And that is what Be Brave is about, sharing our voices, listening, having knowledge – so no child feels alone; they have a voice we will hear.

Be Brave. H

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