Following the diagnosis, Bryce and wife Alex were open about their situation, taking to social media to notify friends about his illness.
The young couple’s tragic story was noticed by Kylie Murray, a young mother of two and club rider whose own mum had been diagnosed with cancer when she was a teenager. Kylie was affected by the thought of Bryce and Alex having to sell their possessions to cope with the hit of Bryce being forced to stop working as he began treatment.
“Bryce’s story touched my heart, being so young with their life ahead of them,” Kylie told FEI.org.
Determined to help, she contacted a mutual friend and they began to work on fundraising plans.
“Using my contacts in the horse community most of our ideas were able to go ahead and grew once people had heard of what was happening,” she added.
Bryce admits that when he was contacted by Kylie he was “caught by surprise”. “It was very hard, and still is very hard, for me to accept help as I have always been a hard worker and self sufficient,” he said.
But by now plans were gaining momentum, with an Equine Health Day organised at which dentists, farriers, acupuncturists and all other manner of specialists in horse care gave their services free of charge to raise money.
Next came an Equestrian Playground Super Clinic before an online auction that raised thousands of dollars thanks to donations from throughout the community.
Most eye-opening among the fundraising efforts, however, has been the 2018/19 18-month calendar, which is available now both in Australia and internationally. That’s perhaps hardly surprising considering it’s being marketed with the moniker ‘Would you like this gorgeous bunch, half-naked in your tack room?’
One member of the “gorgeous bunch” is Gerard Whelan, a farrier who recalls how he became involved.
“I got a call from a friend of mine, Rob Raven,” he said. “He said, ‘You know how Bryce isn’t well? We’re organising a farriers calendar to raise money.
“I told him I’d be up for that. Rob said, ‘There’s only one catch. Bryce has asked if I could only wear my hat and apron’, I said I’ll do that for Bryce!”
The day of the shoot proved to be a blast, with a barbecue and a few beers organised to ease the nerves. Gerard made sure he was well prepared, before stripping for photographer Brook Benbow's camera.
“I picked up some baby oil as this was recommended,” he recalled. “I turned up to the location of the shoot, and I’m the only one spray tanned!”
Gerard stripped down and was snapped with a stallion named Clydesdale. “They were very professional and made me feel very comfortable,” Gerard said. “The photographer and the organiser did an unreal job.”
Bryce said: “I was pretty open minded about the calendar but I didn’t really think it would have the success that it has had so far. Farriers generally aren’t the type of people who find themselves in a situation that requires them to strip off and pose on a daily basis.
"The calendar has actually turned out amazing!”