A WEEK-long adventure driving through Western Australia’s untouched beauty for sick children was a trip two local couples could not say no to.
The 20th Variety 4WD challenge kicks off on Saturday with more than 45 participants travelling from Newman to Monkey Mia to fundraise for much needed programs and equipment for ill and disadvantaged children in the state.
Bullcreek resident Geoff Robb has been involved with Variety WA events since 2000, with his wife Gillian joining the fun from 2004.
Together they have taken part in the 4WD event on and off for the past 12 years, continuously drawn in by the sociableness and the purpose.
“Apart from the social side, seeing the faces of the children and parents when we present items to them is the highlight,” Mr Robb said.
“The touching part is seeing their faces and how families deal with their children’s illnesses.”
Mr Robb said there were many familiar faces on each trip, the endearingly named “repeat offenders”.
“People who can afford to share take part, based on the situation they’re in,” he said.
“They just feel the passion.”
Mr Robb said first-time participants were playfully hazed, with the Variety “virgins” being given a random item to care for 24/7 during the duration of the trip.
Should they lose or have the item stolen from them, they must pay a fine to fundraise further for the cause.
Palmyra resident Susan Roberts is all too familiar with the process, a dinosaur dressed Pepper Pig doll to care for given to her and husband Graham on their first Variety drive three years ago.
The pair had the toy tied to them at all times, even when swimming through gorges on the trip.
The Roberts became involved after a Variety boating event, the pair encouraged to take part for the sake of fun.
Adorning their boat in M*A*S*H 4077 themed regalia, the pair travelled with the Variety convoy to Busselton and were awarded best dressed.
“Now we’re hooked,” Mrs Roberts said.
She said those who took part and organised the event were a pleasure to be around, the camaraderie of the drive being a primary reason to take part.
Much like the Robb family, it was the look on children and families’ faces when they paid a visit to remote towns on the trip that made it worthwhile.
“Walking into a diverse community, such as Derby, and giving them grants and funding towards hospital equipment… that to me gives me goose bumps,” Mrs Roberts said.
“It’s for the kids, it’s all for the kids, that’s what we keep reminding ourselves. It is so heart warningly satisfying.”
As a Variety WA volunteer for various events, Mr Robb said the organisation was concerned with putting the fun back into fundraising.
He said the event was a reward for fundraising efforts, with each team requiring a minimum donation of $8000 to have a place on the drive.
The Variety 4WD Challenge begins this Saturday and finishes on May 28.