Ladybug to take on the mighty Murray River in support of Flourish Australia

If you had said to me 18 months ago that I’d be taking on The Massive Murray Paddle I would have laughed. Now I’m motivated to invest my new found passion for paddling into raising funds for Flourish Australia. I can relate to the positive difference they make in mental health.

On November 18 I’m taking on my biggest ever sporting challenge. The Massive Murray Paddle is an exciting, five day paddling adventure race. As a competitor, I’ll  paddle 404km up the Mighty Murray River. I’ve never attempted anything like this before and as the day draws near I am feeling nervous but also super excited. 

For me, this is about growing beyond my comfort zone but I also hope to make the most of my efforts by fundraising for Flourish Australia.

By nature I tend to be more of a social introvert and until recently I struggled all my life with a lived experience of obesity and feeling down. Soon after undertaking some related surgery however, I happened upon a dragon boating open day.

With that single, exhilarating experience out on the water, I was hooked! 

Since that day, I’ve changed every aspect of my life for the better. In just 18 months, my once couch-bound lifestyle has become fitness-focused. Paddling for enjoyment has snowballed into involvement with team challenges and competitive regattas. It’s what drives me to set personal challenges for myself that are huge and keep me motivated. 

I’ve discovered that I love being actively involved with others who are equally passionate about paddling. Best of all, adopting a more active lifestyle has brought my family closer together. We look forward to getting away together for weekends, around the paddling. It gets us off our devices and out into nature. We’re connected now in a way we’d never been before our sporting involvement. 

It’s lovely to have my whole family, including my Dad and his girlfriend, come alongside me as my crew when I’m competing.  I couldn’t do it without them. They each play an important part. My amazing husband Matt takes care of logistics and all-important IT and I have my daughter Ally to thank for coming up with such a great name for my little red kayak – Ladybug! 

I very much enjoy the team spirit and support that comes with Dragon Boat paddling. It was rewarding to travel to China as part of a Canberra team, which is where I was told about the Massive Murray Paddle. To me it sounded incredible and really appealed as an individual challenge. It will be vastly different to team paddling so I’ve been training hard at the gym and kayaking out on the lake at Orange.

The connection with Flourish Australia came about through my work in the mental health sector of Western NSW Local District Health. As a patient safety officer I deal with a lot of the data generated by the clinics we have out here and I’m involved with the Consumer and Carer Committee meetings. I get to see the results of the amazing work that Flourish Australia do in partnership with our units in remote communities. Seeing so many success stories inspired me to set up an Everyday Hero page so that by taking part in this race, I might raise funds to support the wonderful work they do.

My own lived experience has taught me that while it can sometimes seem that the future is dark or miserable, you can never be sure what tomorrow will bring or where your choices might lead you. Taking a single step to try something new has opened up a whole new way of life for me and brought with it new social connections as well as a happier, healthier family.

Originally from Albury Woodonga, I do feel a connection to the legendary Murray and a little in awe of the challenge such a mighty river poses. My goal is to make every check point and complete the course. Success for me will be crossing that finish line knowing that I’ve put in 100% and completed something that would have appeared impossible to me just a couple of years back. 

Considering it’s a 404km paddle, I’d like to raise $1 per kilometre as a bare minimum for Flourish Australia. Donations can be made at: https://give.everydayhero.com/au/team-coccinellidae