Photo by Harry Cunningham.
Forest Lake local Xavier Hernandez will be completing the 30km Kokoda Track challenge this July along with several other members of his school cohort.
Xavier, who is in Year 8 at St John’s Anglican College, will participate in the challenge with staff, parents and students from all different year levels.
Participants arrive on July 15 at 1pm at Clagiraba Reserve, and finish at Nerang Velodrome on the Gold Coast within 12 hours.
From an early age Xavier has participated in Anzac Day services, Remembrance Day services, and the Jimboomba Cadets, and is participating in the Kokoda track for the first time.
“I want to do this walk for all the veterans, the animals that served, and especially for the families and pets left behind,” he said.
“Although I’m very young, I have seen firsthand how hard it is for families when I’m out helping my mum or listening to speeches delivered at services. I know every bit helps – that’s why I will do everything I can to help raise money for people who truly need it.”
Xavier said he was inspired by several Forest Lake community members, including Paws for Hope and Understanding, Bill Marklew OAM and Lions Club president Del Greenway, who served in the army alongside other Lions Club members.
“Also, while growing up my family members, especially my godfather, would talk about serving in the Australian Army, and my grandfather spoke about his siblings serving in the El Salvadorian Army,” he said.
The team recently participated in a challenging training session at Mt Cootha.
“There were times I thought I would not make it to the finish – however, I thought about how the real soldiers felt, as well as all the people we were raising for. This inspired me not to give up,” he said.
Xavier hoped to raise $1000 for the Kokoda Youth Foundation, a charity changing local kids’ lives through outdoor experiences, mentorship and the spirit of Kokoda, and by June 29 he had already raised $1056.
You can help him make a difference by visiting Xavier’s page on the Kokoda Challenge Website.
“I hope people can donate to help raise money for this very worthy cause,” he said.
“Also, the teacher organising the St John’s Anglican College team is looking for a sponsorship of $850 for team T-shirts. Anyone who would be willing to support the College can email him at email@example.com.”