By Carinda Gosling, Digital Live Rider 2019

 

When I signed up in 2019 for the Digital Live Ride representing Kindred Property Group, I thought I had an idea of what I was heading in to.

Riding 500km across Thailand with a group of real estate professionals to raise money for the Hands Across the Water charity sounded straight-forward enough. I knew it would be challenging but rewarding, I knew it would be a meaningful experience, and I knew that the funds raised would make a real difference to children in need.

What I didn’t know though at the time was the true life-changing impact of that decision.

A decision that, at the time, could have been very easy to say ‘maybe next year’ to.

But instead, in those few minutes in January 2019 when asked to join, I decided to say one simple word that would set me on a path to an experience I will never forgot; that word was ‘yes’.

And today, I now look back at my journey knowing in hindsight that this experience was a thousand times more than I could have ever expected.

It’s an experience that opened my eyes to the world around me. One that has allowed me to make soul-deep connections with others who shared this journey with me. And one that provided me with a moment in time where I knew, from seeing countless little faces with eyes filled with so much joy and love, that my decision to say ‘yes’ in some way helped to make other’s lives better.

Here’s a look back at my experience from the moment I said ‘yes’ to this true ‘human-upgrade’.

The lead up to the ride

To prepare for this ride, there were two main focuses; the training and the fundraising.

The training: Having been a (not great but passionate) cyclist in a past life, I had been on a bike before, so I had some idea what I was in for.

And while a basic level of fitness is important for the ride, the training was not overwhelming or something that disrupted my (very) busy corporate schedule. In fact, it was refreshing to have a goal to focus on. One that (out of both fear and passion) had me not hitting that ‘snooze’ button in the morning and instead getting up and getting to it.

My training consisted of an hour every second day on a stationary bike or an hour jog for basic fitness, and then a few longer rides on the weekends (up to a 3-4 hours ride). I also spent some time in the gym just working on general strength and conditioning but it’s safe to say my training program was not one that was ‘stringent’.

At the end of the day I also knew I could rely on one piece of advice that would carry me through: when your legs get tired, ride with your heart. And boy was that possible. We were honoured to have some of the children from Home Hug (the orphanage we were riding to) join us on bicycles throughout the 500km journey as well as provide support the entire trip as our ‘support crew’.

No matter how tired, how hot, or how sore we were, one reflection on the life these children have faced had me pedalling a lot harder from a place of true passion.

The fundraising

My goal was to raise $5000 for Hands Across the Water and this was honestly not a difficult feat. While it’s not always easy to have people hand you cold hard cash, it’s about getting more creative with the ways you can fundraise.

The best tip I can give is to look at yourself and your skillset and ask what you can offer in return for a (tax-deductable) donation.

For me, it was public relations and communication pieces for businesses that made donations (these were structured in tiers). For others in the ride, it was about creating packages that included real estate services for donations.

The key is to get creative and share the fact that not only will these donations change the lives of others, but there are ways to benefit the donor also.

The ride itself

There are no words to describe the ride across Thailand and the life-changing experience that was riding into Home Hug on the final day. When trying to summarise, I am overwhelmed with memories and emotions from those six days.

Comradery. Perspective. Compassion. Experience. Laughs. Mateship. Challenge. Perseverance. Courage. Tears. Triumph. Accomplishment. Empathy. Selflessness. And the list goes on.

These are just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of the ride itself.

And then that moment at the end, when you are greeted by the children whose lives are indescribably changed for the better by the work that Hands Across the Water do… it is a moment that I will carry with me forever.

I once read a quote that now I carry in my heart, knowing the true meaning of how it feels…

They say that ‘you have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you’, and my experience in 2019 lived true to exactly that.

It is a ride that makes you feel like you have truly lived, that you have changed someone’s life for the better. It is beyond doubt a true human upgrade.

If you are considering one of the Hands Across the Water events, I urge you to say that one word that will change your world and the world of others for the better. Just say ‘yes’.