Cheesy fundraiser for Scooter Safari

It's been a cheesy week in one Rolleston household as Pam Dempsey's kitchen was turned into a production line for cheese rolls.

The snacks are her fundraiser of choice as she prepares to tackle her sixth TranzAlpine Scooter Safari.

The challenging event is run every two years, with hundreds of people dressing up and riding a scooter from Christchurch to Hokitika to raise money for the Cancer Society. 

Pam Dempsey at a previous TranzAlpine Scooter Safari. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Pam Dempsey at a previous TranzAlpine Scooter Safari. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
For Dempsey, it's a no-brainer to get involved.

"Why would you not give back? You know, every little bit helps. It's such a cliché, but it is a really true thing."

A nurse for up to 50 years, Dempsey has lost a number of friends and family to cancer and said the society provided support for patients and their families.

Before each Scooter Safari she aimed to raise up to $4000, making almost 2000 cheese rolls with the assistance of local suppliers New World Rolleston, The Warehouse Rolleston, Bin Inn Rolleston and Associated Distributors.

It's a good warm-up for the big event on the road, which Dempsey said is a lot of fun - but also hard work and at times emotional.

"You go through, you know, every little town between here and Hokitika and there's people lining the streets, or you'll come to a crossroads in the middle of nowhere and there'll be people waving at us."

The Scooter Safari was started in 2009 by a group who lost a friend to bowel cancer. They wanted to create a difficult fundraiser to honour the struggle people with cancer go through.

Riders travel 250km through freezing temperatures, going from coast to coast over the Southern Alps within eight hours.

Participants dress up as all kinds of characters, focusing on helping the people who need it most.

"None of us know what tomorrow might bring," Dempsey said.

"You might get a diagnosis, you might wake up with bruises, you might wake up with a pain. It's that quick.

"And that's the reality for so many people."

She encouraged people to support the riders and help add to their fundraising kitty, as they set off on their endurance safari from McLeans Island, northwest of Christchurch, on Saturday.

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- By Emily O'Hagan, made with the support of NZ On Air