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DebRA Butterfly Day

The Cannonball Charity Ride 2011

- Sue McKenna - Secretary & Coordinator DEBRA Australia

What an adventure!  Nearly 6,000km off road from Bribie Island to the beautiful Barossa via Uluru, raising much needed awareness and funds for DEBRA with a great bunch of people.  Thanks to Kate and the Cannonballers, $32,000 has been raised to keep the National EB Nurse program going.  As DEBRA is made up of mainly volunteers and very limited resources this is a huge benefit for our small organisation.

This funding will allow for the 2 part time specialised nurses to travel anywhere in Australia to educate and support EB families.  The EB Nurses are an essential part of care for the families living with this rare genetic painful blistering skin condition.  This one-on-one contact on a national basis is the first of its kind in Australia.

As Simone (DEBRA VIC) and I were newcomers to the ride we weren’t sure what to expect.  We had our swags, tent, limited clothing and marketing material (even managed to sneak in a blow dryer).  My new Triton was packed up with all the emergency gear we needed (which we thankfully didn’t have to use, like the spare tyres) and off we headed.  Lindenberg & Co Mitsubishi generously sponsored the fuel and officials fees for the DEBRA crew.  Along with support from local businesses in the Pittsworth District, the ride was all made possible for DEBRA to be involved. 

Our fantastic volunteer photographer Lindsey did a wonderful job and Marco got some great film footage for a DEBRA documentary coming soon.  The spectacular landscapes, wildlife and down to earth country people we met along the way all made for fabulous memories we will hold dear, and plenty of photos that we can share with our members and supporters. 

One of the major highlights was the chopper ride over Kings Canyon and one thing that really impressed us was the great team spirit and sense of humour of everyone involved.  If anyone needed a hand they all chipped in.   If anyone fell asleep on their chair round the camp fire after too many beers they hog tied them to it.  The DEBRA crew survived without earning a tutu for being ‘dick head of the day’ for the whole 2 weeks, but we think they were going easy on us first time round...

The other great part of being involved in the Cannonball Ride is letting the Cannonballers know more about the charity and why they are raising these much needed funds.  By meeting our EB Nurse Samantha, Dean, Michael & Bree, Connor, Wayne, Eliza & Ellie, Kate and some of our members along the ride the Cannonballers had a pretty good idea of what a good cause it was and where the donations were going. 

The Cannonballers made us feel very welcome and we knew we were in safe hands – we didn’t always know where we were going but knew we would get to a campsite or a bed at the end of the day and there would be a great meal and some beers waiting.  Kate and her officials successfully led us all from one side of Australia to the other having lots of fun along the way.  We can now appreciate how much hard work and dedication goes into organising an event like this.

Riders and officials have already started creating awareness and raising funds for next year, this is a fantastic result from the 2011 ride and we look forward to working closely with Kate to make the 2012 event at the end of March (Paradise to Perth) even bigger and better.  
EB is an orphan disease due to the rarity of the condition.  On behalf of everyone at DEBRA, thank you to all the Cannonballers for adopting DEBRA and making a difference for families in Australia living with EB.

If you think you could help with sponsorship for the 2012 Cannonball Charity Ride or if you'd like to take part next year, then go to to regsiter your interest now!  We can use all the help we can get to make sure the next ride is even more successful than this year's ride was.  We need to keep fundraising to ensure the National EB Nurse Program can continue to help those who really need specialist nursing care and support.

Sue McKenna – Secretary & Coordinator DEBRA Australia