A little school with big heart

6 December 2018
Group of parents of St Columba's Primary School

Our community supports and sustains us in so many ways. Some people volunteer with us, some drop off goods to our op shops, others donate to our vital services, and then there are those who drive all the way up to the Murray River to compete in a 400km boat race.

Parents from St Columba’s Primary School in Elwood have just returned from taking part in the Murray Paddle – a five-day race along the Murray River – to raise money for the school and for Sacred Heart Mission.

St Columba, who has a long history with us since the school opened its doors almost a decade ago, is regularly involved in fundraising activities and volunteering for the Mission.

Last year the school, who is also connected to us through the Parish of Sacred Heart and St Columba, decided to step it up a notch when coordinator and life-time paddler Andy Szkibik asked school parents including Sonya Sherman if they would be interested in competing.

“We wanted to do something that reached beyond our school,” competitor Sonya says.

The ‘Mad Hungarians’ put in a mammoth effort

The St Columba teams – the ‘Mad Hungarians’ (named after Andy’s heritage) and the ‘Y-Nots’ – drove up to the Murray in a 12-seater bus to paddle in this year’s race.

Andy was in a single kayak and, in a mammoth effort, completed the whole race on her own. Another eight team members were in doubles kayaks competing in a relay style.

The group were up bright and early every day ahead of their 7.30am start. Over the five days, they fought off the cold, the rain and strong headwinds of up to 65km/h.

“There was lightning, hail, even waves on the Murray, but we knew the rest of the team was waiting at the next checkpoint and the only way to get there was on the water,” Sonya says.

In preparation, the team spent the winter getting up in the dark to train at Patterson Lakes, having almost no previous experience in kayaking.

“It’s amazing what these mums have achieved with their commitment – I’m so proud of them,” Andy says.

The team raised $8,850 in total and will generously donate half towards the Mission’s Meals Program.

We would like to thank them for their ongoing passion, enthusiasm and generous spirit. The money they worked so hard to raise will provide hot and nutritious meals for hundreds of people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage.

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