Half million raised in gruelling Simpson Desert challenge
EMMA Lloyd may have blistering feet and aching muscles but no pain can surpass the feeling of helping young people with disabilities build a future
of freedom, dignity and choice.
The 29-year-old was one of 14 who trekked 250km across the Simpson Desert over nine days to raise funds for Youngcare, a not-for-profit organisation spearheading powerful change for young people with high care needs by building high care housing and providing vital grants.
"Our mission at Youngcare is that all young people regardless of their care needs can live young lives,” Ms Lloyd said.
"Young people with disabilities are generally moved to aged care facilities or hospital rooms so we're doing our best to change that and find suitable housing options for them.”
Raising over $570,000, the trekkers took on the ultimate Australian adventure challenge starting at Poeppel Corner - the intersection of three Australian states; South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland and finishing at Birdsville.
The Brisbane-based resident, Ms Lloyd joined other trekkers from Toowoomba, Sydney, Western Australia, Melbourne and Gold Coast in organising auctions, raffles and fundraisers to raise money for Youngcare, with every cent helping to smash their goal of $500,000.
"While the scenery of the desert was beautiful, what stood out to me was the camaraderie. Hearing everyone's story why they're putting themselves in this pain to help that why they're putting themselves in this pain to help someone was really touching,” Ms Lloyd said.
"We were walking 12 hours a day in each other's pocket, so by the end of the trip we really knew everything about each other.”
Having worked at Youngcare as a marketing and communications manager for the past three years, Ms Lloyd knew that taking part Youngcare Simpson Desert Challenge would be mentally and physically exhausting but is similar to the challenges that young people with high care needs face on a daily basis.
"I think the most challenging part was the blistering cold, which I know sounds strange because you're in the middle of desert but some mornings we'd wake up and it's -2 degrees and there's ice on your tent,” she said.
"Your muscles are aching, you're stumbling because the sand dunes are so steep but you think of the people you're doing it for and you just get this restored energy.
"You know you're doing it for people who can't do it for themselves and have endured so much hardship.”
Proving to be the toughest mental and physical challenge the trekkers had ever faced, they climbed more than 1000 sand dunes and battled the harsh elements of the desert, all while carrying a 10kg backpack.
"We would wake up at 4.30am every morning and while it was challenging walking in the dark being able to sit on dune and watch the sun rise was absolutely magical,” Ms Lloyd said.