Joel’s cancer run to Sydney for ‘Big Pete’

Joel Bertoncini. Picture: Joe Mastroianni

When Kyneton businessman Peter Connor died of cancer in 2009, Joel Bertoncini wasn’t in any shape to do more than a few laps of the showgrounds, let alone run all the way from Sydney.

But Mr Bertoncini says the death of his best friend’s father jolted him into taking control of his own health.

Now 40 kilograms lighter and with more than 4000 kilometres of training under his belt, Mr Bertoncini is preparing to run from the Sydney Opera House to his hometown, raising money and awareness for the Cancer Council.

He hopes ‘Doing it for Big Pete’ can rake in $200,000 for research, and inspire others to live healthier lives. ‘‘When he died, it was a bit of a wake-up call,’’ Mr Bertoncini, 30, says.

He will set off after a launch party at Newmarket Hotel from 7pm this Friday, having spent much of the past nine months training under fitness coach Gordon Muir.

He says the 900-kilometre trek honours a man who gave so much.

‘‘Pete was just such a caring, kind person with a big heart. A lot of people knew who he was in Kyneton … if it wasn’t for him Piper Street wouldn’t be what it is today, because he was always trying to get it pumping.’’

Son Peter Jr will be by Mr Bertoncini’s side as his lead driver. He says his father would be proud of Mr Bertoncini’s efforts.

‘‘He’s doing a good thing,’’ Peter Jr says.

Friday’s launch will include an auction of signed AFL memorabilia, including a jumper signed by Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe and donated by Fremantle coach Ross Lyon. AFL great David Parkin will make a presentation.

Mr Bertoncini leaves Sydney on October 13, passing through towns including Mittagong, Gundagai, Holbrook and Broadford before arriving at Kyneton on October 27, the anniversary of Mr Connor’s death.