POPULAR Benalla businessman and sportsman Michael Rodger was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2008.
Almost immediately, the Benalla community responded by organising a fund-raising event to get money for research into the incurable illness which on average causes the death of one person daily in Australia.
Mr Rodger died in 2010, aged 50, but an enthusiastic committee has raised more than $300,000 in the past five years.
Last year more than 1400 people walked, ran and cycled to raise more than $50,000 for research programs.
This year the organising committee is aiming to break the $350,000 barrier with the Michael Rodger Act to D-Feet MND event on Sunday.
MND is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells controlling the muscles that enable us to move around, speak, swallow and breathe progressively fail to work normally.
Organisers are urging people to take part in the 4.2-kilometre King of the Lake race, the annual walk or the cycling events which are over 89 kilometres or 26 kilometres.
Benalla triathlete Luke Baker has won the coveted King of the Lake event for the past two years, smashing the 14-minute mark last year to become the event’s fastest ever competitor.
He is recovering from injury, but hopes to make it three in a row if cleared to run.
The relay and king and queen of the lake events are extremely popular with local and visiting athletes, sporting clubs and other organisations.
Event spokeswoman Robyn Smith said it would be great to see the best athletes from across the region competing in the king and queen events, and the popular team relay races.
“In recent years, local clubs Benalla Saints and the Goorambat netballers have had a stranglehold on the men’s and women’s relay events, and are again expected to field strong teams,” Ms Smith said.
The relay event will be run at 9.30am with the king and queen races at 11.30am.
All the money raised goes to research with pre-event registrations available at Mitchell Health Care, Bridge Street, Benalla, or sporting clubs and organisations can enter relay teams with Pip O’Donoghue on 0411 715 208.