THE greater efforts of parents with autistic children were in the minds of four paddlers completing a 240km paddle for autism charity Ocean Heroes at Bathers Beach, Fremantle about 6pm last Friday.
“When it got tough out there offshore you just think about the effort they put in with their kid, and what we had to do wasn’t a tenth of what they put in,” Ocean Heroes founder and paddler Luke Hallam (27), from Wembley, said.
Mr Hallam, Hilton paddler Cameron McKay (33), Alex Fossilo (29) from Guildford and Carine’s Michael Booth (26) spent five days paddling their 5.5m ocean-going boards from the South-West town since Monday.
They were supported by an onshore crew in their attempt to raise $20,000 for the charity that will take children with autism surfing across the state.
By Friday, they had raised about $14,500 for a van, surfboards, life jackets and a beach shelter to give children with disabilities a day in the waves.
Mr Fossilo paddled with his hands, and was prone on his knees on a board he made himself, with his hands constantly in the water.
“At one point I had something hit the back of the board, but I didn’t look back,” Mr Fossilo said.
The paddlers’ voyage started in Dunsborough with headwinds and drizzle cutting across their course on Geographe Bay.
In the following days, strong seabreezes kicked in and built up swells that frequently toppled them from the boards fitted with safety gear.
Often offshore, they were accompanied by dolphins, rays and flying fish, in addition to a few sighted sharks.
Ashore Friday night, after an escort of fellow paddlers from Woodman Point, the paddlers’ enthusiasm for their task had not diminished.
“We’re already talking about doing it again next year to raise more money,” Mr Booth said.
Fundraising will continue until Christmas.
Donate at www.givenow.com.au/paddle4oceanheroes.