We arrived home about lunchtime today after what has probably been our greatest road trip ever! The Kidney Kar Rally has yet again exposed us to some of the most beautiful parts of our country and to some of the most extraordinary people you could ever wish to meet. While it is lovely to be home and to be greeted very enthusiastically by our beloved Golden Retriever Banjo, we will miss the adrenalin of the rally and the camaraderie of the Rallytives with whom we have spent the last two wonderful weeks.
To finalise our results for those of you who have been following those, here they are. Day 9 saw us come in equal 22nd for the day with a 2 late, 1 early, 1 late and 1 early across the four stages for the day. This placed us 16th overall for the rally so far. Then, on our final day of rallying, Day 10, with just three stages saw us record latest on all three - 3, 2 & 3 - again equal 22nd for the day.
As we arrived in Moama for our Presentation Dinner, there was a great buzz about who might win the major awards and trophies. But even better, it was wonderful to see Grant again -, Grant was a 'Kidney Kid' who had been on the rally last year (although he is not a kid any more, he has attended the Kids Kidney Camps and knows first hand what those camps mean to the Kids). We also heard from Ethan, another Kidney Kid who at just 18, has already achieved so much despite his medical issues. His story, as with Grant's story last year, was truly inspiring. These kids never cease to amaze us all with their resilience, their strength of character, their openness and their determination. To stand up and share their stories with a room full of 200 people is courageous in itself. Thank you to Kidney Health Australia for bringing these kids to speak to us - they remind us why we do what we do each year in the Kidney Kar Rally and inspire us to return and do it all over again.
And while on the subject of inspiration- the fundraising this year broke so many records it was amazing. The three top fundraisers for the year each raised in excess of $60,000 - congratulations to Team Roboat (Kar 77), Sister Act (Kar 1308) and the Bathurst Surf Lifesaving Club (Kar 8) - you have all set the bar very high for us to strive even harder next year. Team Roboat from the town of Ouyen in Victoria were also what is referred to as 'Rally Virgins' - it was their first Kidney Kar Rally. Their journey was in honour of their brother and father Rohan, who sadly lost his life to Kidney Disease just before he was to participate in his first Kidney Kar Rally. The boys drove his 1984 Statesman Deville and as we discovered when we stopped overnight in Ouyen, this was truly a strongly bonded community who had clearly supported this team to help them fulfil their Rohan's dream. Well done Team Roboat!
Congratulations to Rusty Racing, another Victorian Krew, who were the overall winners of the rally. Congratulations to all the winners of all the awards, but also to everyone who participated - you should all be very proud of our combined achievement of raising over $700,000 for the Kidney Kids!
For our part, we were the 7th highest fundraisers this year and hope to improve on that next year. Of course we couldn't have achieved this without the support from all our friends, family, suppliers, colleagues and staff - thank you all so much - we will be back soon asking you all for more! We finished the rally in our highest position ever - from 24th last year to 14th this year - it will be challenging for us to better that next year, but we were delighted to have made such a significant improvement! Our trusty little Subaru clearly benefitted from her new look - she never let us down! She will now be sent off for some much needed TLC before we ask her to do it all again! She took us 8,000 kilometres and got caked in red dust, bull dust, sand and mud, but she never complained. I think she will always carry the legacy of this rally with the thick coating of red dust that has found its way in to every nook and cranny - we will never get it all out!
Having been awarded the Best Presented Kar during the course of the rally, we were last night presented with the trophy- it is huge! We managed to squeeze it into the Kar for the relatively short drive home.
We have had so many highlights on this journey, way too many to list, but I cannot actually recall any lowlights. The driving was hard and very tiring, as was the navigating. We will always remember our first visit to Uluru and some of the truly amazing natural wonders we have seen on this trip. We will also remember the warmth of the people in all the towns we visited, the kids at the schools, the farmers who let us rally through their properties, the incredible wildlife...but honestly, the people in the Kidney Kar Rally family are a truly fabulous group of individuals who all band together for this wonderful cause.
The organisers Arthur & Kim who work damn hard all year to make this event one of the best and safest held in this country, the Sweeps who make sure all the Kars make it home every night, the Controls who set up in some remote places in all weather conditions to start us off on each stage and check us in when we finish, the Ambos Phil and Les who patch us up and make sure we are fit to drive each morning, the Johnston's Gear Truck guys who carry everyone's spare parts, tyres and luggage all over the countryside, the Photographers who do an absolutely amazing job and produce some of the most beautiful and action packed shots you could ever wish to see, Katie and Steve from Kidney Health Australia for spreading the word and educating communities during the course of the rally while maintaining their sanity listening to everyone's tales at night, the drivers, navigators, passengers, back-ups and Kruisers - you are all part of this wonderful family and should all be extremely proud! Thank you to all of you!