Picture yourself trekking in the middle of the desert day in, day out, in a mental and physical battle with yourself for 10 days; the unforgiving sun beating down on your neck during the day and chilling winds keeping you awake at night.
This is the daily reality Brisbane local Dan Wilkinson will be exposed to this week in one of the country’s harshest landscapes on a 300km trek across the Simpson Desert.
Mr Wilkinson, along with 18 other trekkers, will begin their journey on Wednesday in a bid to raise much needed funds and awareness for thousands of young Australians in desperate need.
The Youngcare Simpson Desert Challenge 2015 will be the third Challenge, with the previous Challenges in 2011 and 2013 raising over $1.6 million for young people with high care needs.
Sadly over 7,000 young Aussies currently live in aged care centres because there is nowhere else equipped to provide the support they need.
Mr Wilkinson works as an Excutive Portfolio Manager at Suncorp and has been involved with Youngcare for about 10 years.
He says he was inspired to take up the trek after meeting with some of the Youngcare housing residents and hearing how many of them were living isolated existences in aged care.
“For me it was like a light bulb going on,” Mr Wilkinson says.
“I always knew that the problem was there, but having actually met these people and spoken to them about the issues they went through, I was inspired straight away to do more than what I was already doing.
“To do something as big as walking across the Simpson Desert kind of seems like a fitting challenge, to match the challenges that they have to go through every day themselves.
“I’m not giving aged care a hard time at all, I think they do fantastic job, but it’s just really not a place for young people to be living at all.”
Mr Wilkinson says he hopes to raise $35,000 for the Youngcare building program, who are creating vibrant and modern living spaces where young people can live young and independent lives, with appropriate and dignified care.
“All young people deserve to live young lives,” he says.
“The facilities that Youngcare have built and continue to build are more inviting to young people and suited to what they like to do and are conducive to getting them out and about.”
Mr Wilkinson has been in intensive preperation for the trek since last October, hiking with a group in Bowen Hills with 15kg packs two times a week.
“I’m going to try to keep myself focused on the fact that for me, it’s only going to be 10 days at the most of putting up with these challenging conditions and then I get to go back to my very privileged life,” he says.
“For me there’s an end in sight but for the people that I’m doing it for, often there’s not an end in sight for them — that’s what I’ll be focussing on during the trek. Of course, that, and getting to relax at the pub afterwards.”
Mr Wilkinson says he’s especially thankful for his local community in Wilston Grange for all of their generous support with fundraising.
To find our more or to donate visit the official web page.