TREVOR Gillmeister is not one to have ever been accused of talking the talk without walking the walk.
The former Maroons captain never took a backward step on the football field, and Gilly will now use his trademark grit and determination for his greatest challenge yet – a 1400km fundraising walk from Townsville to Brisbane.
Gilly is aiming to raise awareness and $100,000 for the Asbestos Related Disease Support Society, a cause close to his heart after he lost his father Ron to mesothelioma – the most lethal of all asbestos diseases – in 2008.
The ARDSSQ is a self-funded, non-profit organisation that helps support people suffering from asbestos-related diseases.
“I became a spokesman for the ARDSSQ obviously after losing my father to asbestos, and seeing what a terrible toll it can take on a person, and their loved ones as well,” Gilly said.
“The ARDSSQ do a lot of great work for people suffering from asbestos-related diseases, providing support and financial support for treatment, and it is work that largely goes unnoticed by most people in the community.
“I wanted to help them out by raising awareness of their cause and raising some money for them as well, so we came up with the idea of the walk from Townsville to Brisbane.
“We talked about a few different ideas, but walking from one great Queensland rugby league town to another seemed like the best way to raise awareness for the cause.
“We will be stopping at a lot of centres along the way for functions with the local communities, as well as two big fund-raising dinners in Mackay and Rockhampton.
“It is going to be a big challenge, but hopefully along the way we will be helping to spread the message about the dangers of asbestos, and the work of the ARDSSQ.”
Gilly says the Australian public’s love affair with home renovation means asbestos-related disease is an issue that will not be going away soon.
“We are in a bit of a boom for home renos at the moment. People working on their own homes with DIY projects are happening every day of the week,” Gilly said.
“There are so many shows on TV about home renovation and DIY that most people understandably sit there and think ‘I could do that’.
“But the problem is, when you are not an expert, and you start knocking down walls and what have you, there is no way of being certain about the products you are dealing with.
“Young couples in particular buy older houses to get into the market and fix them up so they can move on to the next one could be exposing themselves to asbestos without even realising.
“It is a big problem, and a scary one as well. That is why raising awareness of what the ARDSSQ does is so important. If people stop to think about the risks of asbestos, then it could save their lives.”
Gilly’s “Walk for Awareness” will start in Townsville on September 26, stopping at a number of regional centres along the way until his arrive in Brisbane on October 27.
He will be joined along the way by sporting stars and local politicians to help raise the profile of his campaign.
Already, Jeep Dealers of Queensland have jumped on board to support Gilly, providing two support vehicles to carry supplies and ensure his safety during the walk.
The Former Origin Greats are proud to have backed Gilly’s initiative, sponsoring the Walk for Awareness with a $20,000 donation to a wonderful cause, and encourage all Queenslander to get behind the event.
“We are just in the process of finalising the itinerary for the trip, where we will be stopping and how many km’s we have to walk every day,” Gilly said.
“But it has been unbelievable the response we have had, especially from the FOGS.
“Laura McCreesh, who is the partnerships manager at the Titans, has done such a great job in getting things organised, and setting up websites and Twitters feed and the like.
“I have had a few meeting with a few companies that are looking to get involved, so the support has just been terrific.
“It is amazing when you are out there talking to people that you start to realise how many people are affected by it. There is always someone that knows someone that has been affected by it.”
You can donate to Gilly’s Walk for Awareness online at everydayhero.com.au/walkforawareness2014
You can also follow him on social media through:
Facebook – walkforawareness2014
Instagram – taking_an_axe_to_asbestos
Twitter – taking_an_axe
Hastag – #axingasbestos
GILLY’S ITINERARY (subject to change)
September 26 – Townsville
September 27 – Home Hill
September 28 – Guthalungra
September 29 – Bowen
September 30 – Cannonvale
October 3 – Mackay
October 5 – Koumala
October 6 – Carmila
October 7 – St Laurence
October 8 – Marlborough
October 9 – Yaamba
October 10 – Rockhampton
October 12 – Raglan
October 13 – Gladstone
October 14 – Bororen
October 17 – Bundaberg
October 19 – Childers
October 20 – Maryborough
October 22 – Gympie
October 23 – Tewantin
October 24 – Mooloolaba
October 25 – Caboolture
October 26 – Aspley
October 27 – Brisbane