Written by Kerrie Alexander
Not even a world-wide pandemic could quash the spirits of 330 very special humans who came together to raise a monumental $510,000 in this year’s Dunga Derby.
The teams smashed the previous six years’ worth of record fundraising efforts out of the park – an effort that Event Coordinator Andrews Coppens can only describe as “extraordinary”.
A total of just over $1.8 million has now been raised for the Dunga Derby’s charity, Rally for a Cause, which has helped 140 local families and individuals affected by life-limiting medical conditions or who have had their lives turned upside down by sudden death or disability.
This year’s combined efforts saw $400,000 raised by 62 Fraser Coast teams and $110,000 raised by the 26 Sunshine Coast teams, who experienced the dunga for the first time this year.
“It was just an extraordinary effort by every single person involved,” Andrew said.
“We are now in a position to help so many more families than we have in previous years because of the hard work and the fundraising by the Fraser Coast and Sunny Coast teams.”
Andrew believes the sense of community was heightened this year by the effects of the pandemic.
“I think we have returned to a bit more sense of community and wanting to help our own.
“We’ve just seen much more of a community feel, comradery and generosity that’s come out of this year.
“All of the events were also well attended because there wasn’t a lot for people to go and do because of travel restrictions and that was a big part of it (fundraising effort) too.”
The call to action didn’t end when the teams hit the road for four days of crazy dirt-flying adventures on July 30, which is held as a reward for the team’s hard work.
While funds raised ahead of the dunga stay locally, the teams often pool their money for people doing it tough in the towns they visit along the way.
Andrew said one of the most memorable moments came from night three when $22,000 was raised for a Kingaroy family whose young son had been struck by chronic kidney disease and was in the ICU.
Dressed in their super cool 70s bell bottoms and gold chains, the Dodgy Brothers lead the charge by passing around a hat and hosting an auction of “silly goods for crazy prices”, which included a wet, tyre-marked, dirty pillow that was lost on the first day and bought back by the owner for $100.
“That (night) was something that will stay with me forever and is probably one of the most special moments that I have experienced in the three years that I have been on the dunga,” Andrew said.
“I’m not aware of any other event where a group of people with the same desires and passions come together to help a complete stranger and an unknown family.
“We all just had the same belief to help out the community and it was just priceless.”
Planning for the 2022 Dunga Derby is already underway but Andrew admits this year’s efforts will be hard to top.
Michael is a fun loving family man who loves to spend time playing hockey, camping and having fun with the family.
Eight years ago he was at an end-of-season fishing trip with his Colts Hockey Club team mates.
They were out early in the morning in the boats checking the crab pots.
The boat got stuck on a sand bank and Michael was thrown from the boat. The boat then did a circle and Michael was hit with the propeller.
He sustained serious head injuries and lacerations to his body. He was very fortunate that all the hockey boys were well trained in first aid.
He was flown to Royal Brisbane and was in ICU and underwent a 15-hour operation to his head injury and also to had to have his arm repaired.
The surgeons couldn’t save part of his skull so Michael had to spend the next 12 months wearing head gear to protect his head until they could operate again to fit a plastic plate.
He spent two months in hospital until he went to Royal Brisbane rehab unit.
We were told that Michael may never speak again, as the propeller hit the area of the brain that is responsible for speech and writing, which was much like having a stroke.
He then went to the Brain Injury Unit at PA Hospital for a further five weeks.
He received intensive OT and Speech therapy. He has been left with severe Apraxia and Aphasia. This really impacts how he can communicate and sometimes stops him from going out by himself or with his family and friends.
We are extremely grateful for the support from Rally for a Cause, who helped get him back into playing hockey by providing visual aids to assist his memory.
He did spend a few years not wanting to be out with the boys. He is playing goalie and can’t remember the player’s names but the boys names on the shirts (because anything visual is much easier for him) has given him the confidence to be able to tell the players where they need to be positioned.
Kirralee (our daughter) and I really proud of all the hard work and dedication that he puts into anything he does to improve himself. We also love that he has his passion for hockey back as this is what we spend a lot of time doing as a family.