Kate McLennan is an everyday hero. Later this year she will be riding her bike from Laos to Cambodia to raise money for water projects in the third world. She tells us more about the adventure and how we can help her raise the funds for this worthy cause!
Kate, you’re riding from Laos to Cambodia later in the year. What on earth possessed you to do such a thing?
There are a few reasons that urged me to do the Laos Water Cycle challenge. Firstly, 2011 was a bad year for me … I lost my father-in-law to cancer in June and my job working 60+hours a week finished, as the company liquidated in October. I ended the year feeling really strung out and stressed. I needed to attract some good karma back into my life. I started my own company in December and found out about the Challenge through a client contact.
The second reason was that after having 2 children, I needed an amazing goal to strive towards to lose those last few baby kilos and get back in shape. Lastly, but definitely not least, I love charity work! I’ve done a charity challenge before in my early 20s, and it changed my life. I raised $12,000 for Fred Hollows Foundation and trekked through Nepal. I can help others and feel like I am making a difference in the world. This was the main reason for me to take on this challenge.
So obviously this is a fundraiser. Tell us about the charity you’re working with and why you chose them.
The Laos Water Cycle is co-ordinated by Inspired Adventures for the charity ChildFund Australia. Inspired Adventures co-ordinate charity challenges worldwide. Paris Marathons, Great Wall of China treks, South America treks and Cycling across Asia, all to raise much needed funds for charity.
I chose the charity ChildFund Australia and this particular challenge, as their main focus is on children. I love their philosophy that if we can educate the children and their communities, we can empower them to address the issues that affect their daily lives.
Australian supporters sponsor over 55,000 children through ChildFund Australia child sponsorship program. The ChildFund alliance worldwide helps over 16 million children. How fantastic is that!
Your aim is to raise $10,000 through your ride. What will the funds go towards?
The money that I raise goes to install water tanks with piping and flushing toilets in the homes of many Laos villages. There are approximately 20 Aussies doing this challenge, and as a group we will bring in over $100,000 for this project.
Basic necessities like running water and toilets are essential for a healthy life. Can you imagine what life would be like without them? This is reality for over 75% of the Laos population.
They use the jungle/bush for the toilets and in many cases, it’s the children’s job to fetch the water from the closest spring or water source. (This can sometimes be a 2 hour trek in the dry season – much longer than the average commute in Coffs!) When children are tasked with such important roles in their households, it means many of them are missing out on school or by the time they get to school, they are exhausted after all this hard work.
Another reason why it’s so important to set up these basic necessities is that Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world. In the Vietnam War, the Americans dropped 260 million bombs in Laos. Seventy six million bombs remain undetonated even today. So going to the toilet in the jungle or going to collect water can be deadly.
I’ve raised $5,000 so far this year through raffles and an awesome movie night at Sawtell Cinema.
Tell us about the ride itself. How far is it, how long will it take, who’s going with you, etc …
On the ride will be the 20 participating fundraisers, an Inspired Adventure tour escort, a charity representative, a local tour guide and a support vehicle that follows us the whole way. The entire trip is about 16 days, including transit to and from Australia.
We ride approximately 464 km over 9 days visiting historical landmarks in Laos and meeting the ChildFund Laos team in Nonghet. We will see the work/projects they have already completed in some Laos communities, which I am really excited about. There is some transit in between Laos and Cambodia which is not accessible by road, so we will have to fly a portion of the trip from North to South Laos. We end up in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in the last 2 days of the trip.
You must have to do a lot of training for this. What’s involved, and how is it coming along?
Yes! I started training before Christmas with a personal trainer at Genesis Fitness Club. My trainer, Colleen from Collateral Consultancy, is a force to be reckoned with; she is helping me to stay focused and motivated to succeed with my fitness goal. I do 2 x Personal Training (PT) sessions a week and weights, plus lots of riding to build up the muscles in my legs. It’s hard to find time to fit everything in, but I have a very supportive husband, mum and mum-in-law to help me with the girls.
I’m trying to work my way up to 3 x 1 hour rides and 1 x 2-3 hour ride per week in addition to my PT. I wish there were more hours in the day!
What fundraising events do you have coming up that people can attend to help support this cause?
I am holding a Charity Auction Night on Saturday 4 August at C.ex Coffs Harbour – joining with another local fundraiser Kylie Sykes, who represents Life and Hope Association, Cambodia. Tickets are $50, which includes dinner, live entertainment, silent and live auctions, lucky door prizes. Tickets can be purchased from Parry’s Jewellers in Coffs Harbour. If you buy a full table of 8 tickets ($400), you also go in the draw for additional prizes.
So far for auction items we have been donated local artwork, accommodation packages, outdoor furniture and statues. The Coffs community is so supportive, and they always get behind a worthy cause!
I’m hoping for over 200 to attend the event; you can see more details on the Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/179345088849789/
If you can’t make the auction night but still want to donate, we have the option of ‘Virtual Attendance’. This means that you donate an amount (anything over $20) and send in your photo and/or business card/logo which will be put onto a balloon at the event, so you will be there in spirit!
We need businesses to donate items that we can auction on the night, so don’t hesitate to contact Kate on 0402 100 208 or email to email@example.com if you can help out.
How can people find out more information and/or donate?
People can donate directly online for a tax deductible receipt: www.everydayhero.com.au/kate_mclennan or join my Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/KatesLaosWaterCycleChallenge for updates and to contact me.
This story was published in issue 20 of Coffs Coast Focus