When Massimo Mele’s father Vince had a “pretty severe” stroke in 2004, the chef was living in Launceston and he working at the newly-opened Mud Bar.
Accepting what had happened was difficult for the Mele family, but they have all learned to live with the results of the stroke.
Becoming a father within the past two years himself inspired Mr Mele to look at his health, but he decided to take his efforts further and joined the Stroke Foundation’s Stride4stroke campaign.
Throughout November almost 700 Australians, including Mr Mele, committed to getting active, but Mr Mele added an extra eight weeks to bring his personal fitness challenge to 12 weeks.
“We hoped [my father] would get his ability back, but he is permanently disabled on his left side,” Mr Mele said.
“The reason I jumped on board was for him. The fact he’s really limited by what he can do, it’s got worse and worse. We had to get him up and going.”
The restaurant trade is a stressful one, and Mr Mele has been working in the industry for the past 20 years.
“I want to raise awareness, especially for chefs. I wish 20 years ago there was better information about how to look after yourself,” he said.
“Maybe there was, but I don’t think we were aware of it. We’re used to going 100 miles an hour, but I’ve been able to get some perspective in the past two years.
“Chefs eat badly, work late, but it’s changing. Chef are doing better now. They used to drink Red Bull, eat chips and smoke; now they come to work with salads.”
Watching how the stroke affected his father and then becoming a parent himself made health a bigger priority for the chef.
“It was a bit of an eye opener [for me] in relation to being a father to one with another one on the way, so I’m making my health a priority,” Mr Mele said.
“I want to be home with my family and stick around for longer.
“Life starts when you realise you’ve only got one.”
The Stroke Foundation aimed to raise $150,000 during the campaign, and Mr Mele’s supporters contributed more than $700 of that total.
“They wanted to raise $175,000 and they smashed it,” he said.
Visit www.stride4stroke.org.au/fundraisers/massimomele/stride-4-stroke for more information about Mr Mele’s challenge.
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