Putting the fun into fundraising

Posted on 21 May 2024

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Sydney Harbour Bridge climb
Climbers recently scaled the Sydney Harbour Bridge to raise money for the Australian Red Cross.

Almost as diverse as people’s motivations and capacities to give to charity are the innovative ways ingenious fundraisers are coming up with to get them to donate.

From drinking 25 glasses of wine during a gruelling marathon to pushing a wheelie bin from Bondi to Broken Hill, there seems to be no end to the quirky ideas people will dream up to raise funds for a good cause.

Australia’s first inflatable baby suit race certainly fits into the weird and wonderful category.

“Run Baby Run” will be held as part of the Humpty Dumpty Foundation’s annual Balmoral Burn on May 26.

As the name of the event suggests, participants will run wearing oversized inflatable suits in the shape of giant babies to raise cash for the Humpty Dumpty Foundation, a children’s charity that provides vital and often life-saving medical equipment in nearly 500 hospitals all over Australia.

The inflatable baby event was inspired by the inspirational story of Archie Akers, who spent 12 weeks in hospital after being born prematurely.

His parents Tim and Francesca credit the support of the neonatal ICU at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, aided by the Humpty Dumpty Foundation, for helping the family through a tough and stressful period. Their son is now a bright and vibrant two-year-old toddler.

Wine not?

Running a 42.5 km marathon is a feat of human endurance.

Perhaps tasting a few glasses of wine along the way might make the experience a bit more palatable.

English wine connoisseur Tom Gilbey took this concept to extremes when he sipped no fewer than 25 glasses of wine during the recent London Marathon, raising more than $26,000 for charity in process.

Mr Gilbey, 52, stopped after each mile (1.6 km) of the race to sample a glass of wine, attempting to guess its vintage, grape variety and country of origin before continuing.

Even more remarkable, he managed to complete the race in a very respectable four hours and 41 minutes.

“It was hilarious because when you’re overtaken by a fridge and double-humped camel, you could get really depressed unless you knew there was a nice wine around the corner with some friendly faces to support you.”

Mr Gilbey told the Guardian he felt honoured to have raised money for a good cause.

“It’s for a great charity and they’re one of many [London] hospices that just work their socks off to make massive differences.”

Don’t look down

The opportunity to raise money for charity was enough to override any fear of heights for those brave enough to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge recently.

BridgeClimb Sydney partnered with the Australian Red Cross for the Climb for a Cause charity event on May 5.

Now in its third year, the event gives intrepid climbers the chance to ascend the iconic arches of the famous coat hanger to raise awareness and funds to support the work of the Australian Red Cross.

Australian Red Cross chief funding officer Jason Laufer said the event symbolised his organisation’s commitment to working with partners to mobilise collective action for positive change.

“Together, we can scale new heights to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who need it most.”

To ensure climbers didn’t get too distracted by the breathtaking 360-degree views of Sydney, participants were treated to stories of the history of the famous bridge along with insights into the work of the Australian Red Cross.

A (non-alcoholic) drink was also on offer to steady the nerves of climbers upon arrival at the “relaxion station” high above the harbour, and prizes were awarded for top fundraisers.

The only problem was, they then had to climb down!

Toy story

Scores of people across the world tuned into social media to follow the audacious attempt by two young women to drive a pair of toy cars more than 800 km down the coast of Florida in the name of charity.

Childhood friends Cassie Aran and Lauren (who didn’t want to reveal her surname) held fond memories of driving the battery-powered toy cars as children.

"We used to ride around in toy cars as kids and have always wanted a Guinness World Record attempt,” said Lauren.

“So, we're like, this would be a fun way to kind of honour our childhood."

While the pair had to abandon their official Guinness World Records tilt, they still managed to cover the distance from Jacksonville to the southernmost point of the state at Key West in about three months.

The dynamic duo chronicled their slow-moving journey on social media to help boost their fundraising efforts for various animal charities in the US and overseas.

Toy car charity challenge
Childhood friends Cassie and Lauren drove two battery-powered toy cars more than 800 km in the name of charity.

Don’t forget to put the bin out

The furthest distance most of us will ever have to walk to put the bins out is the end of our driveway.

Spare a thought, then, for 67-year-old Sydneysider Gavin Kleinhans, who is pushing a wheelie bin 1,150 km from Bondi to Broken Hill in the name of charity.

Mr Kleinhans set off on his marathon effort on April 25 to raise money for humanitarian medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders).

It’s not the first time he has gone above and beyond to raise funds for a good cause.

Gavin Kleinhans
Wheelie bin charity adventurer Gavin Kleinhans.

Two years ago, he loaded up a 110 cc postie bike with 100 kg of gear and completed a 15,500 km solo circumnavigation of Australia to raise money for MSF.

This time, all Mr Kleinhans’ gear for the epic Broken Hill foot slog, which he is documenting every step of the way on YouTube, has been loaded into his trusty wheelie bin.

Mr Kleinhans said he sees his marathon trek as not just a personal challenge, but also a way to inspire other retirees to stay active and try something new.

“It’s like the old cliché – you’ve got to be able to walk the talk – and I’m not just going to mouth off on this, I’m going to do it,” he said in a YouTube video posted before he set out on his epic adventure.

Mr Kleinhans, who is scheduled to cover an average 30 km each day, said he hoped to reach Broken Hill by June 10.

Courting exhaustion for a good cause

Two tennis-loving Melburnians took their love of the game to extremes when they played for a marathon 82 hours and 48 minutes straight in the name of men’s health.

Jamie Blair and Glenn Pope set a new tennis world record for the longest singles match after completing their gruelling contest on court 18 at the National Tennis Centre.

“Obviously, I’m happy we’ve broken the record. We’ve just played the longest tennis match in history,” Mr Pope told tennis.com.au.

“There’s a few aches and pains, but apart from that, I feel really good.”

For the record, Mr Pope, 56, took honours in the charity game, walking off the court having won 121 of the 200 sets played in the match.

The pair raised more than $5000 for men’s mental health charity Movember.

Chairman of the (paddle)board

Paddleboarder Jon Callow
Jon Callow at the completion of his paddleboard charity odyssey.

Paddleboarders are a common sight these days at beaches across the world.

Englishman Jon Callow, 32, turned what for many is an enjoyable pastime lasting a few hours into a feat of endurance lasting a week.

The intrepid paddler from Thackley, UK, completed a seven-day journey across West Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Greater Manchester, raising almost $5,000 for charity.

Mr Callow was inspired to tackle the arduous adventure to raise money for cancer research, after his fiancée was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mr Callow, who has a two-year-old daughter, told the BBC the cancer diagnosis shook his family’s world.

"I thought, I need to try and do something to raise awareness and to give back, so the long-distance paddleboard challenge was born."

Mr Callow said at no stage did he contemplate turning back after setting out on his epic journey snaking along the UK canal system on April 1, and he compared the effort to the "long and prolonged" journey his family had been on since his partner’s diagnosis.

"Most people say this about running: you get to a point where you keep going and the pain disappears. You just become one with it.

"I suppose that is a great analogy for what we've gone through for the past year. It is long and prolonged and you keep going.

“You get good news and bad news but you keep going."

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