By AMELIA SKACZKOWSKI.
After losing his father last year to prostate cancer, Mark created the Kayak 4 Life campaign, an endeavour that will see him battling a 2400km trek to raise money for the Cancer Council.
Tackling high winds and the burning sun, Mark Walsh will spend 100 days on the Murray River in honour of his late Dad.
Aided only by a road crew who will occasionally supply him with food and water, Mark will spend almost four months travelling alone.
“I’m going to carry everything I need with me in the kayak, but as you can appreciate I can’t carry so much food (at) one time, so a following car will give me supplies every now and then,” Mark said.
“A lot of the stuff I’ll be living off will be dehydrated and high in carbs or in the form of tins, and I expect to lose a lot of weight from this, so I’m actually trying to put on a few kilos now.”
Mark is busy juggling his job as a security guard and an intensive training regime to prepare for the journey.
“I’m training five days a week to try and get my fitness levels up,” he said.
“Traveling 30 kilometers per day is going to be physically and psychologically gruelling so I want to prepare as much as I can, and part of that preparation is as simple as going to the gym.”
Mark’s trip has been delayed due to recent flooding and heavy rains, and he is nervous about the risks associated with these conditions.
“I’m very worried about the fast flowing floods; my kayak is not designed for rapid water so if the water picks up too much when I’m out paddling I don’t know what will happen,” he said.
“There is also a high probability of debris still being in the water from recent floods and that is a very hazardous situation.”
While he has already raised a huge $4000 for the Council, Mark hopes to make $10,000 by the end of the trip:
“One of my sponsors is Adventure Cams in Western Australia, and I hope to film the entire trip and make a short film about it, which would hopefully raise more funds after the trip that I could donate to the Cancer Council.”
Community Fundraising and Innovation Manager of the NSW Cancer Council, Julie Roberts, said Mark’s contribution would be greatly appreciated.
“All funds raised will go directly to support Cancer Council’s work in research, prevention campaigns and support services like our confidential Helpline,” said Julie.
Julie said Mark’s campaign was a different type of fundraiser that is part of a larger network of events.
“Mark’s kayak fundraising adventure is very unique and is part of our Do Your Thing campaign – a place for people who want to help the Cancer Council, but want to do it their own way.
“It brings together hundreds of individual fundraising initiatives from fantastic, big-hearted people like Mark who give their time, energy and, in many cases, money to help fight cancer,” she said.
Popular initiatives include fun runs, sponsored walks and head shaves; however Julie said that no matter what the event is, all campaigns help promote the Cancer Council and its purpose:
“Many of our supporters are touched by cancer in some way, so they are very passionate about raising awareness of cancer and supporting Cancer Council and our mission to defeat cancer.”
Mark agreed, saying he hoped Kayak 4 Life would give the Council a good boost of funding.
“The Cancer Council is there to provide support, information and research and I hope my donation will go a long way,” Mark said.
“It’s not just the sponsorship and donations that will help. I’m also running a slip-slop-slap campaign.
“As you can imagine, having sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing are essential when you’re out in the sun for 100 days and I intend to get that message across by example,” he said.
“I’m also trying to promote a healthy lifestyle in general. Something like kayaking, or any other sport for that matter, is great for fitness and overall health.”
One in three women, and one in two men will develop cancer before the age of 85, meaning most people will be affected by the disease at some point in their life.
The good news is that despite cancer being Australia’s leading cause of death, our national survival rate has increased by more than 30 per cent in the past twenty years.
“Cancer survival is best when it starts at prevention,” Mark said “and I hope people will get behind me or any other campaign for that matter and help beat this disease.”
For more information visit www.kayak4life.net or www.doyourthing.com.au