The Bear Foreman Foundation
Welcome to the Bear Foreman Foundation which was created to continue a legacy of supporting talented young athletes in pursuit of their sporting dreams. This legacy exists due to a man by the name of Michael Parnell Foreman 21/04/1973 – 19/05/2013, who was lovingly known as Mick or Bear.
During his life Bear performed countless ‘random acts of kindness’ to family, friends, workers and complete strangers, never promoting his actions. His humility, generosity and willingness to help others, underpins the creation of this Foundation – along with the unique bond he formed with the talented young athlete by the name of Montanna.
This is their story..
Bear was one of those annoying people who could do almost anything and everything he tried. He was a practical thinker, who could also draw and play guitar. Ever dependable, Bear always remained calm under pressure and was steadfastly loyal to his mates. He was adventurous and a natural athlete, who loved exploring the outdoors, as well as playing any and every type of sport.
As a child Bear excelled in swimming and one of the many achievements was to make the Australian Swimming Squad.
Bear never forgot the local townspeople who had supported him during those early swimming years and in particular everyone who had contributed through the means of raffles tickets, donations and billeting to enable him to train, travel and compete. As a result he was passionate about repaying the favour and never missed an opportunity to buy a raffle ticket or provide other means of assistance, to support other young athletes or sporting groups. Through his business Linings Plus he provided ongoing sponsorship and support to the Cairns Crocs Triathlon Club, Ivanhoes Rugby League Club and Edmonton Storm Junior Rugby League team.
During Bear’s time on the Cairns Crocs Triathlon Committee, he heard about a young athlete by the name of Montanna McAvoy, whom was going on 11 years of age at the time. Through her triathlon coach Joel Murray, he learnt of Montanna’s amazing sporting abilities and immediately recognised her immense potential. He also heard of her family life and the fact Montanna was one of 6 children to father Mark – a farmer and mother Alicia – a nurse, living near Innisfail. It was obvious her parents spent a great deal of time travelling with Montanna and her other talented siblings, to Cairns and beyond to train and compete.
Not having even met or spoken to her, Bear decided to sponsor Montanna by buying her a quality new road bike and organised the delivery through her coach, much to her surprise. She wrote a hand written letter of thanks back to him, where she introduced herself, describing her large family, her extensive sporting achievements and what her future goals were. A special bond was formed and they continued to exchange emails over the following years, with Montanna keeping Bear up to date of her sporting results, whilst Bear shared some of his sporting highlights and advice on some of the decisions she would probably face in the future.
A photo of Montanna with the new bike was proudly displayed on Bear’s office wall, near his desk, though he never readily divulged to others the fact he had bought it for her. It was Bear’s intention to surprise Montanna one day by attending one of her competitions or training sessions so they could finally meet in person.
Sadly that day never came…
Bear had not long turned 40 when he lost his life in a tragic car accident, just south of the Palmer River Roadhouse on the Peninsula Developmental Road, in Far North Queensland.
In acknowledgement of this unique friendship, at Bear’s funeral on the 27th May 2013, Montanna was invited to ride at the front of the large bike escort that led Bear’s hearse from the Heritage Brady Chapel in Gordonvale to the Forest View Cemetery in Mount Sheridan, where Bear was laid to rest.
In early 2014, some of Bear’s closest mates and his wife Deb, formed the Bear Foreman Foundation to continue Bear’s legacy of supporting talented young athletes, in pursuit of their sporting dreams. The committee decided that in its inaugural year the foundation would support just one athlete – Montanna. This allowed the committee to find their feet and develop a clear vision of how the Foundation will operate and be self-supporting.
2015 saw the launch of the Bear Foreman Foundation website, which outlines this vision and the Foundation’s Guidelines. The Foundation’s main annual fund-raising event will be held in August 2015 in the form of the ‘Grin n Bear It Challenge’. This multisport race aims at embracing Bear’s love of physical challenges, combining a swim, paddle, mountain bike and trail run, to be held annually at Lake Tinaroo. For more information click on the race page.
Montanna continues to go from strength to strength and keeps the Foundation members informed of her progress. A list of her growing achievements are displayed under the Who we support page.
Montanna has expressed her sincerest gratitude for all Bear has done for her, not only when he was alive, but since his passing. She has since outgrown the bike that Bear had bought her and has returned it to the committee, so it can be passed on to others athletes in need. But before she returned the bike she had some special ‘Bear’ stickers added to the bike, in his memory. She finds it incredible that a man whom she never got to meet, had so much belief in her ability and continues to have such a profound impact on her life. Indeed she feels like he is ‘watching over her’ and is still helping her to achieve her dreams…
The Foundation members look forward to seeking, finding, supporting and surprising many more talented athletes in the region, in the same generous spirit, that was Bear.