We made it!

We made it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

18 Days to go…..

Nick here. Today is the day after one of the biggest days of the year for our family. Yesterday, together with a number of other colleagues and friends we ran a leadership seminar entitled ‘A Day of Inspiration’. The day was our major fundraising event for our walk and we had spent most of the year preparing for the event. The day was a huge success primarily because of the commitment and contribution from some brilliant speakers and a committed audience. One of the beautiful things about doing these things as a family is that your kids constantly keep your feet on the ground. It was yesterday morning and we were busy finalising our talks for the seminar and packing some last minute items. The builders were on site doing some work to our house, trucks in the drive and Gus decided to head outside walk up our driveway and took great delight in taking off his pants and squatting to deliver up his #2’s. Yep anything can happen at anytime with Gus!

We eventually cleaned up Gus, and the driveway and headed to the Frankston Arts Centre to put on our day. When we initially planned the day we hoped that we might be able to attract 30-40 people to attend, we ended up closer to 90. The day commenced with our MCs Ron Kandelaars and Kate Harry opening the day. I was the first speaker and shared with the crowd that I was dedicating the day to a very good mate of mine who passed away this year, Tim Johnson. Tim was an incredibly inspiring leader and anyone who met Tim would understand what I mean. He lived the quote – ‘you choose your attitude’. I couldn’t think of a better way to honour my mate than to host a day of inspiration. I talked further about the previous projects we had funded including funding for a children’s home and school in Chennai India, funding for a home for orphaned girls in Cambodia and school projects in Kenya and Afghanistan.

The next speaker was a powerhouse of an individual, Paul Hameister. Paul shared with the group his experience as he set about to climb the seven summits culminating in his conquering Mt Everest in May this year. Paul demonstrated absolute dedication and commitment to his preparation and explained in detail just what it took to be able to complete this mind blowing feat. He also shared with the audience just how treacherous this can all be and the narrow escapes he personally had experienced leading up to his climb. He also shared with us all how he had been able to raise significant funds for a range of important initiatives including a childrens’ home in Nepal. Paul was an incredibly motivated and inspiring individual. After Paul we enjoyed a presentation from Kate Save, Nutrionist and Dietitian. Kate shared her story of walking the kokoda trek to raise funds for a friend with a very rare illness. Kate’s story took people on the journey of why she did the trek, how she went about preparing for it, what she experienced on the trek and left the group with an invitation to join her again next year if they were interested, which I know several people were.

After the explorers we were fortunate to be joined by three senior leaders doing inspirational work. Natasha Miliotis from MIFSA in Adelaide shared with us her simple yet powerful adage that if people are bursting through the door everyday excited to get to work that everything else would follow. She shared many experiences that dedicated her commitment to learning to be an inspirational leader through the experience she gets working with her staff and stakeholders at MIFSA. After Natasha we listened to Susan Barton founder of the Lighthouse Foundation who shared where her relentless commitment to children stemmed from. Sharing many personal stories and some confronting statistics about the level of abuse still being suffered by Australian children was incredibly moving to all in the audience. She challenged the audience to consider how this can still be happening ‘on our watch’ and it was time for change. Many people were both challenged and moved by Susan’s presentation. After Susan we enjoyed the powerful storytelling of Di Mason from ChildFund Australia who shared her stories of her experience with two beautiful families from Sri Lanka. Di’s very personal account of the families she met and what was important for them and their commitment to providing a safe and healthy environment for their children despite many obvious hardships. Di was able to relay firsthand the value of the support and training these two families had received from ChildFund and how this had supported them through the ongoing difficulties they were encountering. These three presenters were highly impactful.

After lunch we changed gears a little and heard from three inspired women doing inspired things with their lives. Firstly Julie Paterson from Cloth Fabric shared where she draws her inspiration from for her beautiful design and how she had integrated her vision for he life into her life. Julie also set the audience the challenge to note down their thoughts and idea in words and pictures on the paper tablecloths on the tables which she then committed to taking away and turning into a beautiful product which people could purchase in memory of their day. Next on the agenda was Deb Kandelaars who is a first time author and who has just had her first novel published. Deb shared a very personal story of how she found the courage and the determination to write her story and then what it took to then have her work published. Deb inspired the audience with a personal read of the first chapter of her book. We then heard from Rose Kentish winemaker with Ulithorne wines. Rose shared her story of courage and determination as she and her family constantly challenged themselves to dream and then follow their dreams and the many challenges that families face in aligning the many dreams they create. Julie, Deb and Rose were beautifully natural speakers who were able to demonstrate how their passion translated into a core part of their lives.

After a break we were joined by Craig Biddiscombe of Leading Teams. Craig shared the story of how the Sydney Swans AFL team turned themselves from a self described soft and undisciplined team to the premier team in the competition. Craig shared his observations of how the team worked together to determine their trademark and behaviours and how one particular leader Brett Kirk provided strong leadership to support his team through this difficult transition. We then had our MC Ron Kandelaars provide an insight in the world of the media and shared some key tips and techniques for a successful media interview. Nobody can engage the audience interactively quite like Ron and in his 30 minutes he had the audience laughing and enjoying the inevitable challenges of conducting a positive media interview.

The day ended with a very special presentation to me and as I later found out to everybody else in the audience too. My beautiful and courageous wife Bec Petrucco, together with our two amazing girls India and Maggie inspired the audience as they shared the details of our family’s commitment to raise awareness and funds for vulnerable children in India as we walk from the West to the East coast of India. All three spoke beautifully and demonstrated their strength, commitment and determination in making a difference in the lives of children. I couldn’t have been prouder of my three girls as they stood and shared their own thoughts about what we are doing together as a family.

The day that had been so many in the making was over. I finished with a few words of thanks and shared the poem ‘our greatest fear’ which reminded me of my mate Tim and encouraged people to find a way to translate their inspiration and passion and letting their light shine. It was a huge day and by the end of it we had raised approximately $35,000AUD for a range of critical projects for disadvantaged children in India.

As I reflected on the day it once again reminded me of just how much people want to give. They just need a vehicle to channel their intentions. Every person who I spoke with after the seminar shared with me how the day had got them thinking about ways that they could make more of a difference to things that mattered. I am so excited about the fact that not only did we have a great day and honour my friend Tim, not only did we raise considerable funds for our projects but importantly we got people thinking, what an incredible day.

I just want to say a huge thankyou to everyone who contributed to making this one of the best days Bec and I have ever experienced. It was such a huge injection of support and confidence in what we are looking to achieve and to know that so many people are there with us all the way was very inspiring. Today Bec and I have a wonderful sense of calm resolve about our efforts to date and the challenges that lie ahead, it is a great feeling.

18 days to go and we can now focus our energies on our final preparations for our walk.

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