Over the weekend I, along with 29 other leaders from the Canberra and Government community, completed the 142km Menslink Great Walk.
As you may have seen from the provided updates the walk was challenging and unpleasant in many parts. The weather for the first few days was miserable. We were hit by rain, high winds (see image below) and a wind chill that belonged to winter rather than late spring. It wasn’t until the fourth day we received enough sustained sunshine to break a sweat for the first time.
The physicality pushed us all with several of the walkers sustaining wear and tear to muscles, joints, and lower limbs. While I finished as one of the more fragile and injured people I fared better than one poor bugger whose blisters were so bad he went to hospital for pain killers, anti-biotics and professional bandaging.
Despite the physical and meteorological challenges, we were reminded of the importance of the Menslink cause. Each night over dinner we met people whose lives have been changed by Menslink. One such occasion was particularly confronting when three exceptionally brave mothers told of how their boys (and by extension their families) were uplifted by the connection their sons gained through the Menslink mentoring program. One boy experienced a male connection and outdoor adventuring for the first time in his life; another went from being depressed and withdrawn from family and friends to regaining some spark and drive in his life; and one mum said were it not for Menslink her son would not be alive, sharing confronting details why this was the case. She said that Menslink had given her hope for the first time in many years.
Hearing these stories was highly emotional and confronting. For me meeting those directly helped from The Great Walk reinforced the integrity of the Menslink organisation. The funds we raised are not going into a complicated not-for-profit to be spent on admin, they are going to help people like those we met.
Overall the Great Walk raised $340,000. This will see more than more than 220 troubled young men receive help through the mentoring program, counselling assistance and other support initiatives Menslink provide.
The event has reminded me many young men (and their families) encounter real psycho-social hardships that can irreversibly alter the trajectory of their lives, and that I am truly fortunate not to have such challenges in my life. It also reminds me great organisations who make the lives of others better cannot do it without help.
So, thank you for helping me support Menslink. The Great Walk experience will leave a lasting imprint on me.