Sometimes the most inspiring projects begin in the simplest ways. Five years ago Jason Gow, Managing Director of G J Gardner Homes Illawarra, was chatting with a friend who owned a café near his home. They had organised a charity walk to raise funds for Camp Quality which does amazing work for children with cancer and hearing about it Jason and his wife Stacey were immediately keen to be involved.
In its first year of the walk, 2008, over 150 people joined in making the long trek from Shellharbour to Botany Bay. Its resounding success meant the walk became a regular annual event and a firm favourite on the south coast’s fitness and charity calendar. Today the Great Illawarra Walk sees participants do a 2-day weekend walk from Shellharbour to Coalcliff and back again.
Last year while doing a CEO charity sleep out Jason got talking to the owner of the local radio station, WaveFM, telling her about the Great Illawarra Walk and inspiring her with his enthusiasm for the event. The station got on board and provided the kind of media exposure and support which pushed the event to the next level.
Jason saw the walk as a great opportunity to get exposure for G. J. Gardner Homes Illawarra and support a charity he loved at the same time. Putting the G. J. Gardner van into action they drove up and down the course just in front of the walkers, supplying much needed water and setting up portable tables at regular stops with cups of water for a quick pickup.
This regular hydration meant that walkers did not have to carry water with them making their load on this long walk that much easier. They also used the water stops to give the participants some much needed encouragement to keep on going. And the sight of the G. J. Gardner van providing such vital support cemented the company’s involvement in this much loved south coast charity event.
Since its inception the Great Illawarra Walk has raised over $250,000; in 2014 alone it raised $105,000 with 514 walkers taking part. Today the charity’s aim is to help children within the community and this year’s beneficiary was the neo natal ward of Wollongong Hospital.Wollongong Hospital created a wish list of items they would love for the ward and astoundingly so much money was raised that everything on the wish list was able to be purchased.
G. J. Gardner Homes Illawarra is an official sponsor of the event and Jason and Stacey Gow are on the organising committee. Jason is still excited by the walk and its achievements “We love doing this event and it is something my whole family get behind. This event is fast becoming one of the major charity events in the Illawarra calendar.”
Do you want to know more about the Great Illawarra Walk or to participate in the next one? See www.greatillawarrawalk.com and for photos and stories go to the walk’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/Great.Illawarra.Walk