Crispin Till

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Heart attack stops plans to take part in this year's Cardiac Challenge

Shane Craige was all set to take part in his fourth Cardiac Challenge this year, until an unexpected round of “plumbing” to his heart stopped him in his tracks.

Shane, 49, from Weipa was ready to register for the 2017 when a sudden heart attack put paid to his plans.

A mercy dash from Weipa to Cairns on an RFDS plane and a stint in hospital equipped with some of the life-saving technology he had helped raise money for hit home to Shane the importance of heart health and the Cardiac Challenge.

“I was always aware that there was a strong family history, so I considered that heart disease was a possibility,” he said.

"I woke up on the Sunday morning and was about to go for a walk with my wife, but I had a bit of heaviness and I felt a bit clammy.

“We thought it was unusual so we went straight to Weipa hospital.”

It turned out Shane had a number of blockages in his heart, which required surgery.

As soon as he was on the road to recovery, Shane started making donations to a number of riders taking part in the challenge.

“The team at the hospitals in Weipa and Cairns were just awesome,” he said.

“At one point I was having an ECG and one of the staff pointed to the machine and said, ‘Cardiac Challenge paid for this’, so that was a pretty good feeling.”

The Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge is in its 11th year and will leave Cairns on September 16 for its three-day trek to Cooktown.

Since its inception by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation in 2007 the event has raised more than $2.8 million.

The foundation recently announced it would be raising $1.4 million towards a second cardiac catheter lab in Cairns which would mean fewer people having to travel away for vital cardiac treatment.

The foundation’s fundraising and marketing manager Glenys Duncombe said it was unfortunately that Shane’s story was one she had heard so many times.

“Shane and hundreds of others are really lucky we have such a great team and great equipment here, but we really do need the community’s support to help fix more hearts in TNQ,” she said.