Miranda learned about Hands Across the Water at a difficult time in her life, when she was trying to become a mother and was struggling. In her words, "Pete, his mission, and Hands had me at hello!" Her friend then mentioned an "interesting fundraising adventure" and told her about the 800kms bike ride. I thought she was mad!
Today Miranda has raised around $100,000 for Hands and a combined total of $250,000 with her husband Dan! Read Miranda's story below...
How I became involved with Hands:
The Christmas of 2012, I was home in New Zealand licking my wounds and climbing out of the hole of 7 x non viable IVF treatments and a subsequent marriage break up, and was staying with my bestie Carol Spence and her beautiful family who are part of my extended family. I told Carol that I was wanting to sponsor a child who needed support, and, whilst I may not have created my own family yet in the way I had hoped, that I could still be a mother figure to some other children in a different way.
Carol had heard Peter Baines speak at a conference in NZ and instantly pointed me towards Hands Across the Water as the perfect Australian based charity organisation. I was based in Perth at the time, and she said it's perfect for you! After our chats, a google and a stalk of who this man and this organisation was, a read of Peter Baine's book, the rest is history! Pete, his mission, and Hands had me at hello!
Carol then mentioned an "interesting fundraising adventure" I think she may have termed it and told me about the 800kms bike ride. I thought she was mad! I hadn't been on a bike seriously since high school, but after some inspired musings about the 75 year old (Willy Moulden) and the 14 year old (Jack Baines) who had completed the rides before, several bottles of good Kiwi Sav Blanc over a long weekend, and a little dutch courage, we jumped into the unknown and signed up for the 2014 Southern Ride to Provide!
I returned to Perth and announced to the world my plans, which were met with a little amazement, mixed with a touch of "she's having a mid-life crisis" and a healthy dose of inspired support.
I spent the next year training, raising the money and off we trotted in Jan 2014, two soul mates destined for more enrichment in our lives than we could have first envisioned.
There on that journey with those 46 other like-minded souls, we found a soul expanding extension to our extended family, purpose, passion, fitness and love. Amongst our group of intrepid travellers was Dan, who is now my fabulous husband. Love in lycra - it's totally a thing. LOL. Sweaty, dusty, dishevelled and vulnerabilities exposed. The ride has a way of doing that. And the rest is history. All 3 of us went back and did the double in 2015, and Dan and I eloped up to Home Hug Christmas 2016 and declared our nuptials with the beautiful kids and staff who were such a big part of our lives and union.
Favourite Hands Memory:
Oh my gosh - too many to just choose one so here are 2:
Fave Ride Memory (apart from meeting Dan ;-)) was Rest Night 2014 - the floor of the Beach Club across the road from the resort we were staying in heaving from the weight and exuberance of all the riders up shaking their groove thing on the Dance-floor! Such a great night!
Fave Home Memory (apart from our nuptials of course :-) spending a week staying at Bahn Home Hug just prior to starting the Double ride. There was a gorgeous older teenage girl there (I won't use her name to protect her privacy).
Whilst the young kids would hang off me as we walked around the grounds of the home daily, all vying to be closest and seeking out the comfort of hugs etc, this one beautiful young woman always kept her distance, a few paces behind, watching silently from a distance. This went on for days and I respected her approach as she had been through levels of trauma in her young years that nightmares are made of and that no child should ever have to endure at the hands of grown men.
On our final day in the home, as I ventured out on my daily Pied Piper-esque pilgrimage around the dusty grounds of Home Hug's outdoor area, littlies hanging off me, bumping each other out of the way to vye for prime position, I quietly felt the soft skin of an older child's arm link through mine, our hips gently bumping together as we strolled in silence for the remainder of the walk and I turned my head slowly and met the smiling eyes and face of this incredible young woman who's trust I had gained and who now felt comfortable and emotionally held and respected enough to extend her affection to me.
Words cannot do justice to the power of that moment, the positive change I had witnessed first hand, the fierce maternal love that surged through me knowing these kids need us to support them financially and emotionally to be all they want to and CAN be, and the cementing of why we all do what we do, here in the Hands community for these children.
Sometimes over the years, people have said "But what's the point? How can you possibly make enough of a difference?" and I cannot emphasise enough the impact that we are all having on these children and young people's lives, on their communities, their futures, the way they feel about themselves and the way they think about humanity. The connection, the fundraising, the community, the learnings, the change. Hands is so much more than "just another charity".
Top tips for fundraising:
Just leap in! You don't ask, you don't get! And you will be surprised, sometimes the funds come from the source you least expected. Go in with a positive mindset right from the start. 10 Grand? No probs! What does Pete say? "If you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right!"
Get creative! Each year, it becomes a little bit harder to tap back in to the same networks. The first year or two, your supporters/friends/family are usually in awe of the challenge you are taking on and so the funds come a little easier. As years pass, the novelty wears off, lives get busy, priorities change and it can be harder to raise the money fishing from the same pool. We have found that by creating an engaging experience like the 24hour and 12 hour spinathons we held in Darling Harbour in previous years, and by using a strong amount of storytelling, both from past riders, personal experience in the homes and from the children themselves, people were more engaged and invested in the cause. One year, I even made an extra trip up to Bahn Tharn Namchai and spent some time with the kids, painting signs and pictures and filming videos etc so we could use those in our marketing of the event. OK, so I also got to scratch my Thailand itch and spend time with the kids, but it was a valuable fundraising experience and understanding the needs of the children and homes too. We also skyped the homes during the events, so that the people who had their bums on the bikes could feel connected to why they were helping us raise the money.
Get some corporates involved! This was a game changer for us the year we utilised our Corporate Network and was the difefrence between the first 2 spinathons raising $35,000 and $27,500 respsectively to $75,000 in the one event! Corporate teams competed against each other on the spin bike teams and partners of the firms matched dollar for dollar. Suddenly the $20 here and there became $2,000 here and there. If we can do it, there is no reason why you can't too if you are prepared, dedicated, consistent, and passionate! Trust yourself, trust your stories, and trust the process. It's not easy, but it is doable and you can do it. And if in doubt, sing out! Dan and I are more than happy to give you some tips, advice, share our "not so winning" strategies that we wouldn't repeat, and those that worked, so we can save you some time in your planning.