Five paddleboarders will make their way from Dunsborough to Perth – paddleboarding - to raise money for Ocean Heroes, an organisation which enhances the lives of children living with autism through surfing.
Ocean Heroes director and co-founder Luke Hallam said they aimed to give children something they would not normally do in a safe, fun and caring environment.
The organisation started after Mr Hallam had been training children with autism and discovered they had never been surfing.
“I am a personal trainer and half of my clients have autism,” he said.
“It all started with one girl, we started exercising and she started getting great results – not physically – but mentally and at school.
“Her depression went down and her anxiety became obsolete, I started getting more clients with autism, I kept asking them if they had ever been surfing.
“None of them had ever been surfing, so that is why we started Ocean Heroes, to give these children an opportunity.”
The volunteer-run organisation has been running for a year and during that time they have taken 450 children surfing in Perth and Denmark.
“We rely solely on donations which is why we are doing this paddle and will try to raise funds for Ocean Heroes,” he said.
The group plan to paddle out from the Old Dunsborough boat ramp on either Sunday, December 3 or Monday, December 4 and will go all the way to Bather’s Beach House in Fremantle.
A land based crew will support the paddleboarders and meet them at destinations along the way, with their first overnight stop planned for Capel.
“After that we will stop just past Australind, then Preston Beach, Secret Harbour then Perth.”
“I have mapped out 245 kilometres but depending on conditions it could be a lot further,” he said.
Mr Hallam said if the conditions were windy and going in the right direction they would head out offshore and go with the wind.
“You can catch ocean waves on these boards and you can go pretty fast, you can go up to 15 km per hour, but if the wind goes in the wrong direction we will stay pretty close to shore.
“At that time of year, once we get past Bunbury it will pretty much be a southerly the whole way, especially in the afternoon.
“I just want to get started because I know it will be such a big grind, once you get started all the nerves go and you just start getting it done.”
Donations can be made online at givenow.com.au/paddle4oceanheroes, which will help the organisation buy their own surfboards, wetsuits, life jackets and a van.
“People are welcome to come and paddle a section with us or come down at the beginning or end or donate accommodation along the way, that would be much appreciated,” Mr Hallam said.
“We also want to meet people who are paddlers or surfers or anybody who wants to come down and learn about autism, Ocean Heroes or paddleboarding.”