By Greg Deighton (Member 868)
I am a PWC (Jet Ski) rider. That statement has probably raised some comments about irresponsible riders and hoons on the water. However, this article is about a dedicated group of Personal Watercraft (PWC) riders who each year participate in a charity ride, Variety Jet Trek, to raise much needed funds for Variety – The Children’s Charity.
Variety is dedicated to empowering Australian children who are sick, disadvantaged or who have special needs to LIVE, LAUGH and LEARN.
Last year, Variety Queensland had a positive effect on the lives of over 16,623 children in need. With the assistance of their generous supporters, they provided equipment and services with a value in excess of $1.8million.
Each month in Queensland alone, Variety receives over $250,000 worth of appeal requests for children in need. Through grants to children who are sick, disadvantaged and who have special needs, Variety fills a vital gap between what families, schools and communities are able to afford and what our special kids need to lead engaged and fulfilling lives.
In 2017, Variety Queensland will be celebrating 19 years of the Variety Jet Trek, a one of a kind event in Australia that sees participants travelling upwards of 600km over six days on PWC’s.
The event began in 1998 with some fearless PWC enthusiasts tackling the coastline from Yeppoon to the Gold Coast and from this the Variety Jet Trek was born; an annual fundraising and fitness challenge for all involved. The event was initiated by a local Redlands business person, who saw how the well-known Variety Bash event could be adapted to PWC’s.
In 2016, there were 52 PWCs participating and a total net profit of over $140,000 for the kids! Interest and enthusiasm for the 2017 ‘Mission: Whitsunday’s’ Variety Jet Trek is already flowing in with, with 100 PWC’s registered to take part in the event and expressions of interest from an additional 40 riders, all with the goal of helping to raise more funds for the special kids of Australia.
The 2017 ‘Mission: Whitsunday’s’ Variety Jet Trek begins on the 1st May and will finish six days and many hundreds of kilometres later, a sensational feat for all involved.
Yamaha, a significant manufacturer of PWCs and marine engines, is the major sponsor of this event, as they see it as a way to promote the sport in a positive way.
Our family consisting of Paula, Kris and myself (Team D8on) have participated in many Jet Treks and have personally raised over $20,000 for this wonderful charity. All money we raised goes directly to Variety, and all other costs like fuel and accommodation is borne by ourselves. As you can imagine the fuel bill is quite large. Last year, we rode the Great Ocean Road (an article about this and other trips will feature in future newsletters) entering two PWC’s, which combined, consumed 650 litres.
As you can imagine having a large number of PWCs in these events takes some organisation to manage and to ensure safety is paramount. I am one of the on water officials ensuring everyone involved enjoys the experience and returns safely to the ramp. As an official we undergo on water training, conducted by Surf Life Saving, in areas of water retrieval and providing on water first aid until a support boat can reach us.
We do it for three reasons, Variety is a wonderful charity, and during the event we meet a number of the families we are directly assisting, as well as the opportunity to ride PWC’s along some wonderful parts of the Australian coastline in a safe and organised way. Entrants for these events come from as far as Perth and Tasmania to participate as there is nothing else like it in Australia.
This year we are raising funds for a wonderful girl, Tori, who has been living with the debilitating Proteus Syndrome. You can read Tori’s story here Tori’s Story. If you wish to donate to support our efforts in raising much needed funds so Tori’s family can purchase a special wheel chair, as government funding will not cover the full cost, you can click on the link Donate Now.
In future articles I will describe some of the previous events we have participated in from Grafton to Tin Can Bay, Cooktown to Townsville, Yeppoon to the Gold Coast and The Great Ocean Road.
Remember not all PWC riders are irresponsible. If you see us at the boat ramp come and say hi, we are not hard to miss with the double trailer and Variety stickers.