Two north east Victorian men have conquered a feat never before completed, by water skiing down the length of the Murray River in aid of Cystic Fibrosis.
Ben Berry and Scott Collins started their journey in Jingellic on Friday, February 23 before passing through Yarrawonga on Monday, February 26. They were just three days into their journey which has now ended in Goolwa, at the mouth of the Murray River last Friday.
The challenge, the brainchild of the two avid skiers, came about from the duo’s love of skiing and their desire to raise awareness and much-needed funds for families affected by cystic fibrosis (CF).
Scott and Ben and their dedicated SKI4CF support crew took 15 days to complete the 2438km journey, skiing an average 160kms a day.
Cystic Fibrosis is the most common, inherited and life threatening condition affecting young Australians. One in 25 Australians carry the CF gene.
“I lost my mum when I was two from the disease so to be able to help in one way eradicating it is something worthwhile to us,” Scott said.
“A lot of the people involved have been touched by cystic fibrosis.
“Personally, I’ve had two sisters pass away from it and this ski is a real family connection,” added Scott’s aunty Rosemary.
In Australia one in 2,500 babies are born with CF, one every four days.
There is currently no cure.
The average life expectancy of someone with CF born today is 37 years.
From birth, a person with CF undergoes constant medical treatments and physiotherapy.
“There are some of us who have been touched deeply by this disease and with the boys in particular being passionate water-skiers, it worked perfectly to blend the two together and raise money whilst also doing something different in skiing the length of the Murray,” Rosemary said.
“We would like to see all the money put towards research as we hope one day there will be a cure.
“We were up to fifty thousand dollars before we hit the water so that was a bonus for us.”
When the Chronicle caught up with the boys in Yarrawonga the fundraising had already exceeded their expectations.
“Our initial target was forty thousand dollars but people’s generosity has been amazing and we soon had to raise the bar, so who knows, the skies the limit,” Ben said.
“It’s fantastic, I’m really happy to be on board with it.
“Our initial target was forty thousand dollars but people’s generosity has been amazing.”
Although the fundraising was increasing, the trip wasn’t all smooth skiing but luckily the mishaps were only minor.
“It was a little bit disappointing in the top end, we didn’t have the water to get it done and we’ve had a couple of falls and dangerous spots that brought us unstuck and mechanical troubles with our boat that stopped us early but we’ve travelled 100 kilometres already so we’re going good,” Ben said.
“We had a great day getting to Yarrawonga, the weather was great and we didn’t have any troubles on the water so that’s always a bonus. “
Scott also added to Ben’s comments saying how the experience had been one that he was very honoured to be a part of and that plans had been in the pipeline for a while.
“It’s been a long time in the planning, probably around eighteen months,” Scott said.
“The whole experience has been great though and we have had no real massive dramas, just the odd little bits and pieces.
“Our fundraising has been fantastic, which is the main part and the more money we raise the better for a cause that effects so many.”
The team are striving to raise $75,000 for the CF community and when passing through Yarrawonga they had already raised $54,000, only $21,000 away from their target with 12 more towns to pass through.
At the last update before the article went to print and at the end of the ski adventure, the team were sitting at $71,000 with the website remaining open for a while longer for people to continue donating.
“We are keeping our website up for people to make donations even after the boys have completed the ski as many people might only be hearing of our feat then,” Rosemary said.
“It would be absolutely fantastic if people could donate just a little bit towards the research to this dreadful disease and help to eliminate it once and for all.”
The team are encouraging everybody to donate through their Facebook page; Ski4cfevent or on their website www.ski4cf.com.au with all donations going directly to Cystic Fibrosis Community Care.