Celebrating 10 years of promoting health in the community.
“USO is all about whānau united to improve the health and wellbeing of communities through cycling – it’s not about the bike!” - Chris Te'o, co-founder of USO Bike Ride
After losing his father to pancreatic cancer in 2009, cycling enthusiast Chris Te'o took part in Relay For Life Porirua in 2010. The event inspired Chris to think about what he could do to promote health and wellbeing in the Māori and Pasifika communities, where there are inequalities in the health system. Often, people can be reluctant to talk about health issues like cancer, for fear of being a burden on their families.
Later that year, he approached Cancer Society with the idea for the USO Bike Ride, named after the Samoan word for ‘brother’. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we supported Chris with a grant and in 2011, Chris and his brother-in-law, Mark Lerwill, rode from Auckland to Wellington in the inaugural USO Bike Ride.
Since then, the event has gone from strength to strength, reaching communities across New Zealand and encouraging whānau to work together to improve their health and wellbeing through understanding, strengthening and overcoming. During that time, Chris also spent four years working with Cancer Society in our Health Promotion team.
“Once I actually contacted Cancer Society to say that I'd like to do this, it really set me on a path,” says Chris. “Ten years later, we've grown so much.”
“Cancer Society has supported all our bike rides, and that has enabled us to cycle the length of the country, actually going into our community to promote the messages around what can we do to reduce the risk of cancer. Looking back, I just pinch myself – it’s been incredible.”