Two Cairns locals are about to undertake a marathon effort, all in the name of a good cause.
Jesse O’Hara and Joel Little have made an extraordinary commitment to swim more than 27 kilometres from Green Island to Cairns unassisted in a mammoth effort to raise funds and awareness for local organisation AFL Cape York House Foundation.
The pair will complete the swim under marathon conditions, meaning feeders can toss them food and drinks every half hour but Joel and Jesse will be unable to touch the boat for the full course of the 10 or more hours it takes them.
They will be just the fourth and fifth people to attempt the swim, which at full length is a similar distance to the famous English Channel crossing.
Jesse said while the swim will challenge them physically and mentally, knowing that it’s for a good cause will provide strong incentive for them both.
“For me, having a noble cause to train and to strive for is going to make the turmoil of the actual event a lot easier to deal with, because I know that I’m raising awareness and money for a great foundation,” said Jesse.
“With these kinds of physical endeavours, you’re potentially swimming for 10 or 12 hours, and your mind can go into really dark places. But if you’re keeping yourself accountable by representing and raising money for a good cause then I’m hoping that will help me get across the line.”
He said the idea to use the swim to support AFL Cape York House Foundation came from witnessing firsthand the gap in education outcomes for Indigenous people and the good work the Foundation does to improve it.
“Being a Tasmanian myself, I have a bit of a connection with [AFL Cape York’s] Kane Richter and Rick Hanlon. I have had an admiration for the organisation from afar and have always loved what they do.
“In more recent years working for TAFE Queensland, I’ve been involved in some education projects in the Cape and in the Gulf region, and I’ve seen firsthand how difficult it is for these communities and the limited opportunities these kids have. Also, this year I have welcomed two AFL Cape York House students into the Cairns Academy of Sport program.
“Symbolically, the swim represents the gap in Indigenous education outcomes and supporting organisations like AFL Cape York who endeavour to close that gap.”
AFL Cape York General Manager Rick Hanlon applauded Joel and Jesse for committing to such a massive undertaking in support of the foundation.
“It’s a positive endeavour that a couple of young blokes are doing, and they’re real leaders in the community with what they’re trying to do.
“I’m in awe of them. I suggest that the community get behind them and support what they’re trying to do.”
The pair are preparing to complete the swim during a fine weather period in September.
Anyone looking to support Jesse and Joel can go to www.gofundme.com/f/green-island-to-cairns-swim-for-charity to donate.