Holt Rock Hoedown

Country Music Festival Raises Funds for Heart Disease that Took the Life of its Much-Loved Founder

4 October 2022

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute is the proud beneficiary of this year’s Holt Rock Hoedown – a country music festival recently held in remote Western Australia.

Funds raised from the event will be donated to research into coronary heart disease which took the life of Gary Strother in 2021 – a much-loved farmer and family man.

“Our dad was loved by many and was so generous so it’s great to be giving back to an organisation which is making a difference. He was taken from us far too suddenly and we miss him every single day,” says Jo.
Gary Strother (centre) with his family

Gary Strother and his family

Gary was just 72 years old when he suffered a heart attack whilst driving to Perth in June 2021. It was later discovered he had been suffering from atherosclerosis – also known as the silent killer because it often has no apparent symptoms. It causes a build-up of plaque in the arteries and is the most common cause of heart disease.

The Holt Rock Hoedown began in 2001. Thanks to Gary’s enthusiasm, the festival now has around 300 attendees with a fantastic array of bands playing.

It’s hosted at the Strother family farm, an 8800 hectare sheep, wheat and canola farm around 4.5 hours inland from Perth.

This year the Victor Chang Heart Health Check team attended to undertake free blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checks for attendees.

Sarah Beale and Jo Strother at the 2022 Hoedown in remote WA

Sarah Beale and Jo Strother at the 2022 Hoedown in remote WA

Institute advocate Sarah Beale also attended the Hoedown to highlight the research taking place at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Sarah lost her husband Ben to atherosclerosis and has since established the Ben Beale Laboratory for Cardiovascular Research at the Institute’s University of Western Australia hub headed by Professor Livia Hool.

Jo, who is one of four siblings, adds: “When we found out that the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute was undertaking research into this disease, we knew we had to make it the beneficiary of this year’s Hoedown.”

The Institute’s researchers have already identified the gene that drives the build-up of plaque and are hopeful of delivering new preventative treatments in the future.

Professor Hool said she was very honoured and touched that the Strother family had made the Institute this year’s charity partner.

Professor Hool says: “Every year 4,300 people from Western Australia lose their lives due to heart disease. That’s 11 families every day that are robbed of their loved ones.

“We are determined to boost world-class cardiovascular research underway in Western Australia, increase the number of lifesaving projects that need our expertise, and address and tackle an entire range of heart conditions.

“Every single cent raised from the Hoedown will help us achieve our goal and we hope to be able to discover more about the disease that took Gary and deliver a better future for the people of Western Australia.”

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For all media enquiries and interview requests, please contact:

Julia Timms
Head, Media & Communications
0457 517 355

Jo and Gary Strother at Hoedown WA

"He was a generous man – who would do anything for anybody."

- Jo, Gary's daughter

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years