“My best friend lost her dad to suicide in March 2013 and I’ve never seen grief like that which I witnessed in the following days and weeks. I decided then that I had to do something to try to limit the number of families who would experience this, let alone the pain that someone who reaches that point must be going through.
I’ve been involved in Plebs, Pros & Personalities (PPP4SPA) in support of Suicide Prevention Australia for a number of years now, and first took on the challenge of organising an event in Brisbane in 2016. This year however, was more personal for me as I took the event to my home town of Grafton in Northern NSW. This quiet country community is currently in the midst of a devastating suicide epidemic, with an ever-increasing number of young people taking their own lives. I simply couldn’t stand by and watch, so I decided that PPP4SPA would be the perfect vehicle to generate further conversation about what is happening and what can be done.
I can honestly say the majority of organisation associated with the event was a breeze (especially with a few learnings I’d picked up from last year). I was incredibly lucky to have absolutely unwavering support from the local community - almost everyone I contacted was immediately on board to help out. I can’t thank Joel Ward & the Grafton Hockey Association enough for so willingly providing a venue, or Carly & Anthony Sinclair of AwsumBody Fitness who so generously donated two treadmills, helped us out with transport, and even brought us meals during the event. The local radio station and newspaper were both also fantastic in providing promotion for the event.
I’m fairly confident my friends and family just happen to be some of the most supportive people in the country! As soon as I took the idea to my parents they were immediately on board. Given that I live in Brisbane, a fair bit of promoting fell on them as they are still located in town, and they were absolutely phenomenal. Not only did they house us for the weekend (even calling on neighbours for extra mattresses) but they also provided some much-needed entertainment on the treadmill in the wee hours of the morning! The whole experience would have been particularly difficult for my mum, as her brother took his own life when she was a young girl.
We had a team of 5 ‘pro’ runners in Grafton – myself and 4 friends. Each of these amazing humans did not hesitate in the slightest when I told them I had this crazy idea that we could keep a treadmill going for 24 hours and try to encourage others to keep another 2 treadmills going with us. I had friends come from Roma, Sydney, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour to participate, and the social media support from those who couldn’t make it to town was unbelievable.
Our whole fundraising experience was overwhelmingly positive! I found many people were more than willing to donate both through online fundraising pages and also gave cash donations through raffles and guessing competitions. When I found out the 2017 event had raised $90,000, I was rather emotional. I couldn’t have been more honoured to have been involved and contributed to this unbelievable result!
Easily the incredible support the event received from the local community, and the conversations that were generated simply by turning over some treadmills for 24 hours were the highlights. That, and the moment we slammed the emergency stop button to signify that we’d done it!
Supporting SPA and suicide prevention initiatives is something I’m proud of, and incredibly committed to, and until suicide rates in Australia reach zero, I’ll continue to campaign and raise funds to help make that dream a reality.”
If you too would like to be an SPA Champion for Life, please visit our website - https://www.suicidepreventionaust.org/projects/how-you-can-get-involved and checkout the opportunities to make a difference, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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