Africa Challenge for Gambia kids
By KATE McINTOSH
SIMON Boon of Banora Point is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, all in the name of a good cause.
The former African expedition leader and his teammate are the only Australian entrants in the annual West Africa Challenge, a fundraiser event to raise money for the children of Gambia.
Their arduous journey begins on Boxing Day in the southern English city of Plymouth where they will sail across the channel then drive through France, Spain, Morocco and Senegal before reaching Gambia. Simon described the event as a test of endurance rather then a race.
"The trip could take 20 days or it could take 30. Once you start there is no back-up or support allowed. If you breakdown you're on your own," he said.
Simon said the real challenge has been in the lead-up to the event and the struggle to secure sponsorship.
"In Australia Africa seems a very distant far-off place, so it has been a very hard process to gain corporate sponsorship here," he said.
Despite this, Simon has managed to negotiate almost $8000 from American and European corporation, but is still hoping to reach the $10,000 mark.
Simon said the event, now in its fourth year, was very high profile in Europe and the United Kingdom and had attracted 3750 entries despite there being only 150 places available. Simon said he believed he secured a start due to his previous connections to Africa.
"I'm no stranger to this sort of thing and when I first heard about the event I could not resist the challenge," he said.
Simon plans to donate medical equipment and the team vehicle to the Royal Victoria Hospital in the Gambian capital Banjul upon arrival.
"It is much better to donate goods directly to the people or local charities, particularly in Third World countries to make sure those who need it the most receive it," he said.
Anyone wishing to help Simon on his way can contact him through his website www.freewebs.com/boosi