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Riding roads in tribute

MISSION: Luke Stojanovic rides from The Rock to Lockhart to honour his friend Kim Hunt and raise money for a special cause. Picture: Kieren L TillyAN UNLIKELY friendship betweena motocross enthusiast and mother of threepaved the way for a triumphantfund-raising venture.

LukeStojanovic, 25,rode a purpose-builtbike from The Rock to Lockhart on Saturdayinmemory of his latefriend,Kim Hunt.

Hesustained critical brain injuries when he came off hisbike inLockhart in 2012.

Lukeovercame his initial20 per cent chance of survival, but he is unable to walk or talk.

He spent nine months in Sydney’s Liverpool Brain Trauma Unit, where he forged a special friendship with Kim, who was recovering from a car accident on theLockhart-BoreeCreek Road that same year.

Tragically, Kim, 41,and her family –husband Geoff, 44 and childrenFletcher, 10, Mia, 8, and Phoebe, 6 –were found shot dead on their Lockhart property “Watch Hill” lastSeptember.

Kim was due to ride alongside Luke in a fund-raiser for the hospital they shared next month.

Instead, she had a special place on a different ride that honoured her and her family.

“Luke wanted to make Kim proud,” Luke’s motherKimStojanovicsaid.

“I think she was his angel sitting on his shoulder and pushing him the whole way.

“Kim progressed a lot quicker than what he did, but shewas always a wealth of encouragement.”

Luke and his best mate Jackson Strong’s mother,MandyStrong, rallied together to organise the ride to raise money forthe Wagga Base Hospital Intensive Care Unit and the Liverpool BrainTrauma Unit.

More than 170 people rode from Wagga to LockhartviaMangoplahand The Rock on Saturday to raise $7000 for the cause– and counting.

Ride organiserMandyStrong said 170 cyclists from around the Riverina and his hometown of St Georges Basin rode sections of the course, including son Jackson, who ran alongside Luke.

“It was fantastic,” she said.

“I think it was a really cathartic thing for Lockhart to talk about Kim and the family in a really positive way and Luke allowed that.”

Mrs Strong thankedthe Hunt and Blake families for allowing the ride to go ahead, the Lockhart community andeveryone who supported the cause.

MrsStojanovicpraised all thosewho have beeninvolved in Luke’s recovery.

“He’s built of gutsy stuff,” she said.

“Luke is still fighting his own battles and he’s wanting to help others.”

As he was being unstrapped out of his bike,he signedto his mum,“The sky’s the limit.”

Donations can still be madeby transferring toThe Luke Stono’s Kim Hunt and Family Memorial Ride,BSB 633000 andaccount number 133614735.

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