There were sore feet, there were blisters, there were people who suspect their hips and shins may never be the same again. But the Menslink Great Walk has embedded itself as one of Canberra’s great charity events, raising more than $326,000 so far.
In its third year, the fundraising tally means that the walk has now raised more than $1 million for the cause – and spent it on services for vulnerable young men and their families.
It was the first time every walker reached their $10,000 target and the first time that any single walker (Laura Cunningham from Centrered IT) raised more than $30,000.
Not for the first time, quite a lot of people got lost and a number of high-fliers realised just how painful both chafing and blisters can be. And that it’s really easy to get lost somewhere down the back of Kambah if you’re not listening closely to clear instructions, although the only real penalty is being late to the pub for a cleansing ale.
Menslink chair Mike Batennally, who admits to needing an uncharacteristic mid-afternoon nap on Saturday, says the strong fundraising result shows Canberra punches “well above its weight” at a difficult time for donations.
“A big highlight for me was the participation of so many women this year,” he told Region.
“Women are very strong champions for Menslink’s work in the community. They walk the walk every day, and it was very powerful having many women who are also mums themselves committing to the cause.”
Mike says the average age of walkers also bodes well for Menslink’s future, ranging from “re-treads”, including Mike himself, to Ben Grady from lawyers Bradley Alan Love and a couple of other parents with very young children.
For the first time, most Menslink staff across the organisation engaged with various stages of the walk and Mike acknowledged the huge input from volunteers and board members who pull together the logistics of getting 30 or so people around a 140 km trek safely and happily.
“Beyond the bubble of the walk, the big Canberra and regional vision of support for Menslink is what matters,” Mike says.
“The walk grows awareness of what it’s about.
“The sense of corporate responsibility is very strong in Canberra and that is impressive, but the $30 contributions are just as important.”
Todd Wright from Threesides Marketing, who co-ordinates much of the walk’s promotion, says every walk has a different vibe, and this time, it was a little like school camp for adults.
Fundraising for the Walk is open until 1 December and there are a few post-walk events, including a construction industry golf day ahead.
“Everyone was sore but walked away as positive as when they came in,” Todd says.
“It’s always a lot. It takes a lot of trust. You want to know your time will be well spent, but people get so much out of it.”