Young adventurer completing 3,800km marathon journey for deaf children
Twenty one year old adventurer Thomas Dunn has almost achieved an extraordinary marathon goal – a 3,800km paddle boarding journey down Australia’s longest continuous waterway for over three months. Stand up Paddle Boarding for Deaf Children Australia, or SUP4DCA, is a charity event dedicated to raising funds for children who are deaf or hard of hearing in rural and remote areas of Australia. SUP4DCA hopes to raise a massive $60,000 to go directly towards Deaf Children Australia’s Video Outreach Program and has already raised almost $20,000. Tom began his amazing marathon effort on 27 January in Warwick, Queensland. He is now heading for the finish line at the Murray mouth at Goolwa this Friday 19 May and is within reach of his goal.
Tom’s plan was to paddle board eight hours a day down five rivers across four states. However, it proved challenging as there wasn’t enough water in stretches of the Condamine River in Queensland. Tom wasn’t going to let that stop him so he traded his board for some running shoes through those stretches and pushed on in extreme heat, jumping back on the paddleboard at every opportunity. Now he is powering down the mighty Murray surrounded by fog on these chilly mornings, which highlights how long his journey has been.
This journey has been inspired by Tom’s younger sister Cate who was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at birth. Children like Cate and their families often need to travel to major cities in order to seek services such as educational support and develop Auslan (Australian Sign language) skills. Cate explains: “Many of us are isolated in hearing environments and are fitted with hearing aids or cochlear implants, or can hear just enough to know there is a sound near us – but we can’t identify it. I thought if I just put in the effort, I could keep up and understand like everyone else did. We young deaf people often fail to understand that we are constantly playing catch up to an impossible goal. We need to be empowered with knowledge and strategies through support on how to cope with the many different forms of challenges we face.”
With the funds raised, Deaf Children Australia will expand their Video Outreach Program to provide services to more deaf and hard of hearing children and their families living in rural and remote areas. This program provides support, mentoring/role modelling and Auslan tuition to ease the isolation. The successful program had to be scaled back after the VidKids government pilot program ceased – but there are enormous unmet needs.
Would you like to support SUP4DCA by donating funds or products, or sponsoring the event so we can reach more children and young people who are currently isolated? If you would like to donate, please go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sup4dca If you would like more information, head to www.sup4dca.wixsite.com/donate or www.facebook.com/SUP4DCA/
If you would like to apply for video outreach support, please contact Deaf Children Australia’s National Helpline on 1800 654 916 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to SUP4DCA’s generous sponsors including Kia, Swift Caravans, NSP Surf/SUP Boards, Geelong Rotary Club, Simpsons Labour Hire Horsham, Fuzion Fitness, Honey Stinger, Amazon Design + Print, Quota International of Wimmera and McHenry Accounting Partners who have helped make this journey possible.