IN-DEPTH NEWS FEATURE:
If you love the Australian Outback, have a passion to try something new and adventurous that is challenging and want to support a worthwhile cause, then Kidney Health Australia’s Kidney Kar Rally is just for you.
The Kidney Kar Rally is a charity event like no other, because it is organised by individuals who have rallied competitively for most of their lives, it follows the traditions of the Australian reliability trials of old, and it caters to everyone no matter your age, driving experience, or vehicle type.
Those who are successful in life are often adamant about giving to others, becoming more community focused, and contributing a portion — often 10% — of their earnings, to help those that are less fortunate than they are. However, gone are the days where a philanthropist simply writes out a cheque and posts it, in order to support a charity that they feel warrants their financial assistance. Today’s philanthropist can now make giving an activity where they become involved in a fun-event, get to know a little more about the organisation, and connect with like-minded souls from all walks of life.
One such event is Kidney Health Australia’s Kidney Kar Rally, which challenges the mind, revives the soul, and gives the body time-out from its normal everyday existence. This event is unique, because it not only supports Kidney Kids, an initiative that focuses on giving children affected by kidney disease, and their families, a much-needed reprieve from the rigors of kidney illness, but it also follows the traditions of the Australian reliability trials from the 70s. Trials, which test the driver and navigator as well as the vehicle and have results recorded on time-distance averages.
The overall beauty of the Kidney Kar Rally, however, is that it caters to all entrants regardless of their rallying experience, and it can be as competitive or as relaxed as you like. Some entrants take longer to traverse the 4,000 kilometres event than others. Nevertheless, all entrants are involved because they believe in the cause, are passionate about cars, and do not mind getting down and dirty, especially when their fundraising initiatives and entry fee support Kidney Health Australia and their endeavours.
Kidney Health Australia, originally known as the Australian Kidney Foundation, opened its doors in 1968. Today, the not-for-profit organisation seeks to improve the quality of life for individuals and their families who are suffering, or affected by, kidney and urinary tract disease. In addition, Kidney Health Australia endeavours to raise community awareness about Chronic Kidney Disease, which, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, contributed to almost 10% of death’s in Australia during 2006 and more than 1.1 million hospitalisations.
Kidney Health Australia’s Kidney Kar Rally enables the non-government funded organisation to plan and implement children’s programs throughout the year. These programs include Kidney Kids National Camps, Kidney Kids Capers, and Kidney Kids Family Fun Days, all of which, allow children suffering from debilitating illness to enjoy those joyous and pleasurable activities that other children do daily.
Natalie Lansbury, mother of Maddi, an angelic 7-year-old girl recently diagnosed with ‘Dense Deposit Disease’, a rare and aggressive form of kidney illness, knows first-hand what Kidney Health Australia’s support means.
“When your child is on dialysis, you are so restricted. Everyday life revolves around their treatment and normality is gone. When Maddi went on the Family Fun Day, held at Luna Park, it was the most amazing thing to see. Her whole face lit up”, said Natalie. “Maddi went on the roller coaster time-and-time again, and had a huge smile on her face. Kidney Health Australia’s support made it doable and affordable, which we are so grateful for, especially when we are country-based.”
Maddi, according to Natalie, went into renal failure only three months after her diagnoses, and had been on dialysis for some 14 months. She had a donor kidney transplant on the 21st of March 2010 and spent a number of onths in hospital. Therefore, the happiness that the family were briefly able share, on the Family Fun Day, is a moment in time that they will hold very dear.
Peter Lanyon, whose daughter, Jodie, battled kidney disease for much of her life, also knows how supportive Kidney Health Australia can be. Peter, who is the Kidney Kar Rally’s longest competitor, has been with the rally since it began in 1989, some 22 years. For Peter and his daughter, Debbie, Jodie’s younger sister, the event is something that they cannot afford to miss.
“My initial involvement with the Kidney Kar Rally was through the inaugural event in 1989, which was then named the Kidney Kaper. My eldest daughter, Jodie, was a kidney kid. Diagnosed at the age of six, Jodie’s illness quickly developed into end-stage renal failure and, for the rest of her shortened life, she dealt with dialysis, transplantation, and rejection of donor kidneys. Throughout those early years, my wife, Wendy, and I were working with hospital social workers to foster support groups for other families of kidney patients. After reading about the upcoming event in the Sydney Daily Telegraph newspaper, I saw it as an opportunity to combine my desire to become involved in motorsport and a chance to contribute and learn more about kidney disease, function and support,” said Peter. “The feeling of family and mateship, which comes with every rally start, when all the participants come together for another year, is most memorable. The greatest thing though, is the continued support that my family give me throughout the year, and to have my youngest daughter, Deb, who waved me off as a seven-year-old in the first rally, become my navigator, which she has done now for the past six years.”
Over the years that Peter has competed in the event, he has seen competitors come and go and the event evolve into a popular “must-do” affair for the young and old.
“The first couple of events, although they were a competition, were more of a social event. Impromptu “bonnet parties” were held along the track with groups of competitors spreading out their goodies on a bonnet and the rest ‘digging in’. However, the problem with that was we weren’t getting into town ’til way after dark and we were missing all the meals,” Peter said. “The Rally of today offers different things to different people. It is still social in the evenings, but can also be competitive during the day if that is desirable. We also have cars that just come along for the ride, cruising through the day and enjoying the nightlife. Although people have come and gone over the years — some returning a few years later — the character of the people remains. All competitors have a strong community spirit and desire to help others, and this drives them through their fundraising efforts, with the goal at the end being an enjoyable “road trip” like no other.”
From city-to-town via some of the most remote outback locations, the Kidney Kar Rally has travelled across Australia from all compass points, and back again, more times than anyone can remember, and best of all, no two events are the same.
Kim and Arthur Davis, the rally’s road directors for the past 12 years, believe that the event is such a resounding success because of its safety record, comprehensive planning and diversity, and the shared camaraderie of each event.
“The Kidney Kar Rally has evolved into a much more well-known event in rally circles, especially with the number of charity events now being organised. The event prides itself on its unblemished safety record and the popularity of this rally speaks for itself with the number of participants taking part”, said Kim. “We have a very interesting and varied life, meeting new people on our travels around this wonderful country of ours, and each year we thoroughly enjoy the company of all of our “rallytives”, when we get together for yet another Kidney Kar Rally adventure.”
Kim has been involved in the administration-side of rallying, and a service-crew member for Arthur for over 30 years, and, Arthur has competed in rally events and organised them for more than 40 years. In fact, the couple met on a rally — Kim was administrating while Arthur was competing — and, from there, they built a lifetime together surrounded by wheels.
“Arthur and I actually met at a rally in the early 70’s when he was a competitor and I was assisting with admin. I have been the service-crew member for many of the rallies Arthur has been involved with, and of course the administration side-of-things. The most demanding being the NSW State Rally Championship in 2000. Our eldest daughter attended her first rally at the age of 4 weeks and has been involved ever since,” said Kim.
Arthur’s car rallying history is impressive, having competed in the International Southern Cross Rallies from 1972 t0 1980, the London to Sydney Marathon in 1977, and the Repco Round Australia Reliability Trial in 1979 as well as the N.S.W State Championship from 1982 to 1988, which he won in 1987, and the Mobil Round Australia Rally in 1996. In addition, Arthur has also organised many rallies for the Bathurst Light Car Club, including the N.S.W State Championship at Bathurst in 2000 and has been on the organising committee for the Wynn’s Australian Safari.
When asked how it felt to be involved in competitive car rallying, Arthur said, “As a competitor it is one of the most exciting things to do, tearing through the forests at 200kph in the middle of the night. The highs and lows of rallying are dramatic – from the highs of winning, to the lows of breaking down and being forced-out of an event.” Pausing to reflect for a moment, he added, “I feel extremely privileged as the sport has taken me right around-the-world, I have been to countries where no-one would dare go these days. Rallying is certainly ‘the sport’ for the biggest adrenalin rushes. The trust between driver and navigator is paramount. One cannot work successfully without the other; it is a real team effort.”
Listening to Kim and Arthur speak about their involvement with rallying, it becomes clear why the Kidney Kar Rally is so well-organised.
“We plan a rally by working out where the event hasn’t been in the past, where we think we can find suitable roads, and then we start the mapping process. Arthur does a huge amount of preparation before each rally, especially studying maps of the areas that the rally intends to run through. We spend up to 20 weeks a year ‘on the road’ searching for a suitable course,” Kim said. “We make a point of liaising with farmers, State Forestry officers, National Park rangers and government bodies to secure permits for the event to travel over their roads and tracks. We then drive backwards-and-forwards over the areas that we intend to use and finally chart the course.”
Once planned, Kim and Arthur then publicise the rally in all of the areas that the Kidney Kar Rally will travel. They carry out radio and press interviews, drop flyers into letterboxes throughout the rural areas where the rally passes, organise all of the catering for the eight-day event, and send out a list of all available accommodation, at each overnight stop, to the participants.
“The rest of our time is taken-up with the enormous amount of administration involved with running such an event – from taking entries and keeping accurate accounts of each participant’s fundraising money to answering enquiries from prospective entrants. It is important for us to keep the participants informed of all that is happening with the event each year, and we accomplish this primarily through a newsletter that we publish several times a year,” said Kim. “We make a point of being accessible to everyone at all times, either in person, by phone, or via email.”
Then, there is the preparation of the Kidney Kar Rally ‘Road Book’, which many competitors refer to as the “Rally Bible” because, without it, you are simply lost for direction. The Road Book contains instructions for all roads travelled during the rally and allows competitors to find and complete all stages.
“Creation of the ‘Road Book’ is huge,” said Kim. “As all our charting of the roads and tracks firstly needs to be put into the computer. Then, once complete, we print the whole lot and copy this and make it into books for all participants. Some 20,000 to 25,000 pages of paper make the ‘Rally Bible’ possible each year.”
The 2012 Kidney Kar Rally, which starts on August the 14th and finishes on the 24th, will travel from Mandurah to Bendigo via the Nullabor, and pass through many states. Typically, more than 50 vehicles enter the rally, and many of these will be looking to be the event’s highest fundraisers.
In previous years, the rally has raised more than $500,000.00 for Kidney Health Australia, with some of the highest fundraisers contributing more than $20,000.00 per vehicle. The beauty of being amongst the top-ten highest fundraisers for the event is that you start each day in the position that you obtained. For example, if you were the fifth highest fundraiser then your vehicle will start in fifth position daily.
The Kidney Kar Rally runs annually in August and the entry fee of approximately $4,500.00 per vehicle covers all meals and insurance for the driver and navigator. Additional team members can entry the rally for $850.00 each. If you do not want to compete in the rally but wish to follow the event or be a support vehicle for a competitor, you can enter as a ‘Kruise’ participant, or back-up vehicle for $2,500.00.
For more information on the Kidney Kar Rally and how you can be involved in this year’s event, or subsequent years, please contact Kim Davis toll-free on 1300 300 544 or email email@example.com, or you can visit www.kidney.org.au.
Please Note: This article was originally written by Tricia L. Snell and published in Lifestyle Investor Magazine Vol. 1.6 | Issue May/June 2010. It has been updates and re-printed with the permission of the Lifestyle Education Group.