It’s not every day you get asked to ‘fill in’ on a 225km hike through Queensland’s infamous Simpson Desert. But, for Vlado Adzaip, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
Just five weeks out, Vlado joined Youngcare’s 2023 Simpson Desert Challenge, taking the spot of his manager, Todd Finney Executive Manager CTP NSW & SA, who’d sustained an injury during training. “There were a lot of last-minute walks in the lead up and I had to join a training group,” he confessed. “Training for those longer walks I've never done before, just to see if I could do it, was pretty brutal.”
Having already volunteered with Youngcare for many years, Vlado was familiar with the organisation and its values, so was thrilled to take on the Simpson Desert Challenge and fundraise for a cause so close to his heart.
The work Youngcare does really speaks to me. To be able to advocate for young people in Australia, aligning with what Youngcare stands for and really try to shine a light on the work they do, especially being in such a privileged position, it was such an easy ‘yes’ for me to lend my support.
Over nine days, 16 fundraising volunteers trekked from the Northern Territory/Queensland border to the remote town of Birdsville, tackling unforgiving terrain and scaling over 1,000 sand dunes. An undeniably extreme physical challenge, Vlado attests it was the mental toll that made the trek exceptionally tough.
“In some of the more difficult moments, you reflect on your reasons for being there in the first place. But you can always climb another dune. It’s gruelling, but it's mind over matter when you’re 100kms in. The challenge is about getting your mindset right.”
As well as the sheer beauty of the Simpson Desert, it was the outpouring of community support - from camaraderie between the 16 trekkers, support crew volunteers, and the region’s locals - that left lasting impact on Vlado.
What you see out there is incredible. I’ve been lucky to travel a lot through Australia and around the world, see some amazing places, but the desert is just beautiful,” he continued. “And, sharing that with 15 other people as well as the volunteers who supported us across the desert, was something pretty special.
"What really struck me, though, was the Birdsville community. Just how much they got involved with us, with Youngcare; it just made the whole experience even more incredible, and really speaks to the generosity and supportive nature of these regional communities. When I look back on the whole experience, all you can see is the beauty of it all and the amazing connection you had with your fellow volunteers."
Congratulations to Vlado and Todd who, through their fundraising initiatives supported by Suncorp’s people, raised over $53K for Youngcare.
Suncorp has been a proud foundation partner of Youngcare since its inception in 2007. The partnership provides support through the At Home Grants as well as key fundraising activities throughout the year. Suncorp Group's work in the community.