Anthony Conias is passionate about pizza and has operated his business on Gladstone Road at Highgate Hill since the late 1990s. He recently acquired another passion – cycling for a cause.

Anthony joined his father’s real estate business, Conias Real Estate, as soon as he finished school, but after his dad sold the business in 1997, he opened Neo Pizza in the same location two years later. “I always had a passion for food and in the beginning I employed chefs to do the cooking, but always found myself annoying them all the time and telling them how to do their job,” says Anthony. He now does all the cooking and in September 2001 he won the Dairy Farmers national award for The Best of the Best Pizza Challenge.

Neo means new in Greek, and Anthony is living up to the name of his restaurant with a newfound passion for cycling and raising money. Anthony and his Neo Pizza team recently cycled in The Brissie to Bay Charity Ride to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Anthony and his wife Jen are blessed with two healthy boys, Zac (7) and Joshua (5). The Brissie to the Bay charity ride struck a chord with Anthony, who says he has seen his fair share of share of sadness in the world. “We have seen illness and disease take its toll and change people’s lives,” says Anthony. This prompted him to get behind the cause and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferers.

Anthony converted his own love of cycling into an opportunity for his team to raise much needed funds for MS sufferers. He formed team Neo Pizza just five weeks before the 2011 race. He and his team of 15 riders managed to raise almost $31,000 between them, which saw them become the group with the highest funds raised in the competition. In 2012, team Neo grew to 60 riders and once again they were the highest fundraisers with almost $88,000 raised, says Anthony. The team also had the highest individual fundraisers, with Tasso Skoumallas raising more than $36,000 between 2011 and 2012, and the Morfoulis family being the second highest individual fundraisers this year with more than $12,500 raised, he says.

Michael Fovakis was the fourth highest individual fundraiser this year with $8000. “The results go all the way through the team with lots of efforts by all the team members contributing to the final total,” says Anthony. “I know after speaking to most of our team after the ride how touched they were to have so many sufferers with MS clapping and thanking them for participating and raising money. We recently had the awards night and it was the same; so many grateful people and so many thanks to everyone involved,” he says.

Anthony is already working on the 2013 MS Brissie to the Bay charity ride and anyone is welcome to make the commitment and join team Neo Pizza. The ride starts from just 10 kilometres and goes all the way up to 100 kilometres.If you are up for the challenge, send an email to anthony@neoppg.com.au.

Words by Jimmy Bazianas | Images by Gillian van Niekerk