Van man a shining light

Tony Smith, with his 1982 XE Ford Falcon, is hoping to raise $100,000 for Starlight Children's Foundation. Picture: David Baylis d419563
Tony Smith, with his 1982 XE Ford Falcon, is hoping to raise $100,000 for Starlight Children's Foundation. Picture: David Baylis d419563

With two healthy children of his own, the Canning Vale business manager built and fitted out a panel van and drove across Australia, seeking to raise $100,000 for Starlight Children’s Foundation.

The drive coincided with the 2014 Van Nationals, which took place in Victoria during the Easter weekend.

Mr Smith said he came up with the idea in October last year.

‘From this adventure, I have learnt that anything is possible if you want it hard enough,’ he said. ‘There were people that said I couldn’t do it and questioned my motives, but I think at the end of the day we proved them all wrong.

‘The trip was a great relief after many long days and nights of hard work; even on our last night before leaving we worked on the van until 1am.’

In conjunction with the trip, Starlight Children’s Foundation ran a workshop with Princess Margaret Children’s Hospital in its Livewire adolescent facility. A 17-year-old patient designed a mural that was airbrushed onto the van by internationally acclaimed artist Wayne Harrison.

Starlight Children’s Foundation state partnership manager Jayne Graham said the organisation was grateful for Mr Smith’s fundraising efforts.

All funds raised will go directly towards WA programs, including the Starlight Express Room and the Livewire room.

‘It will keep those rooms staffed and stocked with games, activities and more to replace the fear, pain and boredom children experience when in hospital,’ Ms Graham said.

To donate, visit http:// fundraisingforstarlight.gofund raise.com.au/page/SmithTonyTrippin.