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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Staying healthy, helping kids get well

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The Fitness 300 team: back L-R Troy, Mal, Kristian, Brett, Rebekka; front L-R Barbara , Janine. Photo Melissa Hargraves


Melissa Hargraves

Fitness 300, a local bootcamp group, handed over a cheque for $6,000 to the Our Kids charity in Lismore on Tuesday. The group have trained for 12 months and completed four challenges in that time.

The challenges chosen were: the 96km Kokoda Track in New Guinea, 10km Gold Coast Marathon, 14km City2Surf in Sydney, and the 2012 Lismore Samson Fitness Challenge. Bootcampers could choose any or all of the challenges.

With the successful completion of each event, members raised funds for the children’s ward at Lismore Base Hospital. Accepting the donation was Kerry Burn, nurse unit manager.

‘I’ve been at this hospital for 27 years. Without fundraising like this, we wouldn’t be able to function at the level that we do,’ Kerry told Echonetdaily, ‘and it means that most children can stay local and receive treatment.’

‘The flow-on effect is that the other wards benefit, as money that would normally be spent on equipment in the children’s ward is available for other areas, so we all benefit.’

Because of funding cuts, the Children’s Ward is without a play therapist, which is normally a paid position. Kerry is concerned about the loss of this position as the benefits are huge, and she witnesses how it helps children recover physically and mentally from sickness. She hopes that this will be addressed soon.

Our Kids charity is based in Lismore and raises money for paediatric equipment and play resources for our local hospitals in the northern rivers catchment. The fundraising coordinator is Rebekka Battista, who happens to be part of the inspiring Bootcamp and completed the Gold Coast half marathon.

‘Lismore is full of people who enjoy keeping fit and the bootcampers have come up with this great idea to not only stay fit and focus throughout the year, but also, at the same time, help support local children who stay in the Lismore Base Hospital,’ she told Echonetdaily.

The Kokoda Challenge was the most gruelling: 96km of rugged terrain completed in 30 hours out of a designated 39. Some members of the group trained for the whole 12 months and sometimes walked 20 to 30km during the night in preparation, or a 2½-hour Sunday walk to Eltham pub from Lismore!

Brett, who completed all challenges, said ‘the combined focus was on raising money for Our Kids, and we succeeded’.

Janine, another Kokoda challenger, emerged as the taskmaster of the group. She was also able to convey the emotional experience.

‘It was mud, crud, emotional, joyous. You get so tired from exhaustion and because you don’t sleep there is fatigue in there. At 92km I said I’m sorry, guys, I’m going to have to cry.’

In addition to raising money for Our Kids, the Kokoda challengers raised $1,500 for the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program. The program teaches young people that their achievements are directly related to the effort that they put in.

The Samson Fitness challenge was held in March this year and is an annual fundraiser for Our Kids. The bootcampers were surprised to win a category.

‘We approached the challenge no differently from a training session and we won; we couldn’t believe it!’ said Kristian.

The Fitness 300 team approached local businesses B&T Garages, Envite and FPI Oceania to sponsor them. Ross of FPI added that his ‘children have benefited from the children’s ward so he knows how valuable it is’.

A person is predominantly motivated for fitness to improve themself. The Fitness 300 Team has set an example of a pathway to obtaining fitness and aiding the community.

Troy validated: ‘It is unbelievably rewarding. There was also a lot of fun in there!’

Our Kids Day Out is planned for Sunday 17 June in Ballina at the Missingham Bridge amphitheatre from 9am to 2pm. The event was postponed in April because of bad weather. There will be plenty of entertainment for the children at this free event, including circus acts, balloon art, face painting, reptile handlers, singing and dancing, and loads more. Go to http://www.ourkids.org.au/events.php for more details about the day.

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