Almanac Life: Project Discovery Classic #5 – Riding to achieve Neil Sachse’s Vision


Neil Sachse suffered the worst injury ever in AFL/VFL history. Playing for Footscray (now Western Bulldogs) he was left a quadriplegic after a game in 1975.


He worked tirelessly (from his wheelchair for over 45 years) to raise money for research into Spinal Injuries. His work has resulted in a world first imaging system for spinal injuries.



Project Discovery Classic #5: Riding to achieve Neil Sachse’s Vision


Project Discovery Classic #5 will take riders on a fun and challenging ride from Adelaide to the Barossa and back. Led by the team at Mondo Cycling Tours, this is the fifth annual ride and the Neil Sachse Centre’s largest annual public fundraiser. PD5 goes from Feb 18th to Feb 20th 2021.


What is Project Discovery? In 2016, the Neil Sachse Centre and SAHMRI launched ‘Project Discovery’, providing the most advanced imaging of the spine with the aim of revolutionising the diagnosis and prognosis of spinal cord injury and other spinal pathologies. The ride was named the ‘Project Discovery Classic’ to raise funds to support this world first research being undertaken by the Centre.


Project Discovery uses positron emission tomography (PET) to image the spinal cord. PET is an imaging technique that produces three-dimensional images by detecting gamma rays emitted by radiopharmaceuticals. The new cyclotron at SAHMRI gives local researchers the ability to source a range of radiopharmaceuticals previously not available. The NSC has progressed on this to the advanced stage of a Clinical Trial scanning people with a SCI and funds raised by PD5 riders will support this vital work.


The new imaging system will be able to see intact nerves after an injury speeding up diagnostics from 2 years to 3 days. The funds raised will allow Project Discovery’s imaging technology to further hone, develop and create of new technologies to treat the damaged spinal cord.


Every person who suffers a spinal cord injury will benefit from this new imaging system and the creation of newer technologies.


Sadly Neil passed away on August 25, 2020.


Friend of the Almanac, Paul O’Connor from the Western Bulldogs Past Players contacted us with some details about this year’s ride.


Here is some of an email he shared with his me in 2019.


To· Paul O’Connor


It is a bit late for sponsors but happy with donations. Can go to support the Bulldog Past Players ride. I get a bit shitty as none of its going to help me (I see myself as a vehicle for change) but it will help people in the future. Everyone can put their head in the sand and try and ignore my injury but it doesn’t take away the fact spinal cord injuries still happen. If you don’t look to change things nothing will change. Have that off my chest now. Don’t think you’ll ever have a dull moment in your life. You have to many restless molecules Paul.


Cheers, Neil


This is what he told me. HE DID NOT WANT ‘LIKES’, he wanted everyone to dip into their pockets. Please put what you can for one of the most significant advancements in Spinal Cord treatment EVER due to the work of the great man Neil Sachse.


He gave everything – we should give a little back.


Past Players Colin Boyd and Jon Ballantyne are sponsored by the Western Bulldogs and the Western Bulldogs Past Players for this year’s Project Discovery Ride. Please pay what you can and forward these links EVERWHERE: (let’s all put money to this great cause – as much as you can spare) – Do it for Neil – Be a True Bulldog!”


Col’s link is


Jon’s link is



For more about the ongoing legacy of Neil’s work, please visit



Here are some past reflections on the life of Neil Sachse

Neil Sachse: 45 years on

Neil Sachse: A determined father spreads an important message


The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE



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