The omens were good: a perfect Canberra spring day blessed around 30 Canberrans and support crew members who are setting out on one of the biggest tasks they’ll ever undertake, the Menslink Great Walk 2023.
Walkers like Region‘s Tim White, Julie Dobinson from family lawyers DDCS (Dobinson Davey Clifford and Simpson), Member for Bean David Smith and Menslink chair Mike Battenally strode off towards Mt Ainslie, marking the beginning of five days of hard slog for one of Canberra’s leading charities.
$220,000 has already been raised for the cause towards a target of $350,000, and there’s already a standout leader – Laura Cunningham from Centrered has tripled her personal fundraising target with over $30,000 already banked for the cause.
For her, the challenge is deeply personal.
“I’m completing the walk because it’s time for me to be brave after trying to overcome physical challenges over the last five years”, she says.
“If I can be brave and put my physical ability on the line to complete this walk and raise funds on behalf of Menslink, then imagine how many other young men and boys I can empower to be brave too and seek the help they so desperately need”.
Paul Eccles from PSC Insurance Brokers is not far behind, topping the $20,000 mark. Also a Menslink board member, Paul is one of the three-time “retreads”, having walked the gruelling course twice before.
While reminding himself somewhat ruefully to check what the actual definition of excitement is in the face of 30 km days on foot, he’s nevertheless motivated by how important Menslink is for the young guys in Canberra and their families.
Lucie Hood from Doma Group was surrounded by her young family as she set off, inspired by lived experience with a family member who has been through significant mental health issues. She’s already clocked $11,000 for the cause.
Ben Grady from lawyers BAL is also a Canberra local born and bred, and has seen the value Menslink creates in the community for years, as does Kim Marshall from Canberra Southern Cross Club and Geocon’s Nick Georgalis, who sees the challenges young blokes go through at closer hand than most as one of the city’s largest employers.
While the trails are mostly bush, you’ll see the walkers in and out of Canberra for the rest of the week, so stop and say hello if you see them going by. They’re walking from Parliament House towards Hall, then around via Belconnen to the Arboretum and south towards the river.
The final day will include a full Lake Burley Griffin circuit before ending in the heart of Canberra, where Menslink belongs. Region will drop in on the walkers throughout the event, bringing you all the news of triumphs, disasters and inevitable blisters.
Please donate to individual walkers or the cause as a whole: your help enables them to provide mentoring, support and education for young men and boys across Canberra who are struggling, and that help flows onto their families (often single-parent mums), their schools, friends and communities.
It’s an investment in Canberra’s future that repays us all.