Mark takes on the Raw Challenge to Raise Funds & Awareness for Parkinson’s
Tuesday, 16th April 2024

Mark takes on the Raw Challenge to Raise Funds & Awareness for Parkinson's

With so many athletic events to participate in for Parkinson’s research, our Shake It Up supporters are always inspiring and impressing us with their physical feats to raise funds and awareness.

Earlier this year, our Shake It Up hero Mark took on the Raw Challenge, raising over $2,500 for research in the process! We spoke to Mark about what motivated him to embark on this challenge, what the experience was like, and his advice for other fundraisers.

Tell us all about the Raw Challenge! What was the event like?

The Raw Challenge is an event held at Numinbah Valley inland from the Gold Coast.  There are two major events per year and the course is 9km with over 60 obstacles and a lot of mud.  As it turns out the event is one of the most physically demanding (and therefore mentally challenging) activities I’ve ever taken part in.  I consider myself to be reasonably fit but this was one of those moments you hear people talk about, when they realise age is catching up with them.

Anyone who had the privilege to witness my never-ending struggle  to escape the mud-pit will one day be able to tell their grandchildren they were there the day that I realised I wasn’t the super athlete of my younger years.  Not that I was ever a super athlete or that my team-mates’ grandchildren would care even if I was!

Did you do any training for the event? What did that involve?

People were asking me that question in the lead-up to the event, and apart from my usual exercise (gym and bike-riding) regime, it was more of, “why would I need to train for a frolic in the mud for an hour or so with the occasional obstacle to conquer?”

3 hours and over 60 obstacles later I was wishing I’d done a bit more research about the event beforehand…


What were the highlights of taking part in this challenge?

The highlight of the event was definitely the people in the team that did it with me and the awesome light-hearted approach they took to the event.  I was super proud of the way we supported each each other to ultimately finish the event.

Why did you decide to raise funds for Shake It Up Australia?

I decided to raise funds for Shake It Up Australia primarily because, as the founding directors cover all administration costs, 100% of money raised goes to research.  Also, raising funds for research gives you a sense of satisfaction that in some small way you’re playing a part in the quest to discover better treatments and to get closer to finding a cure.

What inspires your commitment to raising funds and awareness for Parkinson’s research?

With further research and hopefully significant medical advancements, my quality of life will remain as my children get older. From what I’ve read and heard, it sounds like new treatments for Parkinson’s disease may not be too far away.  I was diagnosed with the condition in 2016 and underwent DBS last year.  The improvement this has given me in my day-to-day living was probably even better than I expected.  This demonstrates the importance of research to hopefully discover other treatments that can have a similar impact on quality of life.

Who has helped you along the way in your Parkinson’s journey?

My wife is the best and I love her so much. I was diagnosed about 7 months after we had met and had just got engaged. She could have walked away and I don’t know how I would have coped on my own.

And while it sounds like I’m accepting an award at the Oscars, I just want to mention my neurologist, Dr Rob Adam. People like Dr Adam don’t seek or receive the recognition they deserve for changing people’s lives and, while I love my sport and admire the talents of the elite, I find the level of adulation they get a little disproportionate to that of the many medical heroes doing such great things.

What is your advice for someone else wanting to take on a challenge for a good cause?

Doing the challenge as part of the fundraising effort helped to keep people engaged and a reason for me to remind people about donating to Shake It Up Australia.  There were certainly a flood of donations coming in on the day of, and the days after the event.  Obviously raising money is the primary objective but creating awareness is also important –  having the Shake It Up Australia logo on our shirts received more attention than I thought it would.

My advice to others wanting to do a challenge as part of a fundraising effort is that you will by surprised at how rewarding it is and how it makes you really appreciate the support (both financial and otherwise) you get from close friends and friends that, for whatever reason, that you don’t hear from so much anymore. It sounds like a throwaway line, but I have been genuinely blown away by people’s generosity in financially difficult times.

Shake It Up fundraising hero Mark says that those doing a fundraising challenge will be surprised by how rewarding it is, encouraging people to give it a go and raise funds and awareness for #ParkinsonsResearch Click To Tweet

It’s not to late to make a difference this April for Parkinson’s Awareness Month by participating in fundraising and hosting a #Pancakes4Parkinsons event!