HORSHAM’S Tom Dunn has raised more than $81,000 for Deaf Children Australia.
The announcement was made at an event at Horsham Golf Club on Saturday night.
It was the culmination of the end of a 3600km stand-up paddleboard journey along the nation’s longest river system, traversing four states.
“It was the finale event, I guess, a way of celebrating everything,” Tom said.
“The final tally came in at $81,658, which was just absolutely phenomenal.”
Tom’s trip, which took in the Balonne, Culgoa, Darling and Murray rivers over 113 days, beginning in January and ending in May, was a tribute closer to home.
His sister Cate was born profoundly deaf and he watched her struggle through her early years.
Tom, 21, said his trip, called SUP-4-DCA, was something he wanted to personally and he saw it as an opportunity to help deaf children whose families may not otherwise been able to travel for treatment.
“A big scale trip like this is something that would gain attention and instead of it being about me, I thought it would be better if someone was to benefit,” Tom said.
“It’s obviously a fair drive to Melbourne and the cost of fuel and accommodation once a week like my parents were doing is not something that everyone can afford.
“I felt a little bit guilty that I was off doing this trip no matter what, so I combined that together. Helping someone else was the real reward.”
Tom said Deaf Children Australia’s general manager and program co-ordinator were among about 70 people at the event and the money he raised would be used for a video outreach program to help deaf children in rural and regional Australia.
He said the ‘monumental thing’ was Deaf Children Australia had had its funding cut, and the money he had raised was “that first little hit,” towards kickstarting the video outreach program nationally.
The ‘finale event’ was comprised of a “patchwork quilt of support crew” and people who had actively supported Tom’s journey on social media.