Queensland rugby league legend and iSelect Titans foundation assistant coach Trevor ‘The Axe’ Gillmeister is known to be passionate about the Maroons and about “playing tough” but he’ll need to use all the personal passion and determination he can find to walk over 1400km from Townsville to Brisbane in just a month.
The 50-year-old ‘Gilly’ departs Townsville on September 26 to raise money for the asbestos cancer victims, of which his father Ron is one. The disease took his life in 2009.
His sojourn, which will involve walking an average 48km a day for 28 days, has been tagged ‘Taking An Axe to Asbestos’. He will arrive in Brisbane on October 27, almost five years to the day since his father died.
Gillmeister is a dedicated supporter of Asbestos Related Disease Support Society of Queensland and initially hoped to raise $100,000 of much needed funding for the society which helps sufferers of the disease and their families, and aims to bring awareness to the dangers of exposure to asbestos.
In a touching gesture, Sandra Williamson, whose mother also died from the disease in 2013, has taken a month away from her job as development manager at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast to accompany Gillmeister for the whole journey, walking most of the way so touched was she by Gillmeister’s epic challenge.
“I’m pretty passionate about the cause,” said Gillmeister, who has already exceeded the $100,000 with sponsorship and donations before he sets foot on the highway and now has targeted $200,000. :
“My father died from the disease which was related to his many years working at an alumina plant at Gladstone in the early 70s.
“Watching him die like that is one of the toughest things I’ve done, he was such a strong bloke who had a big impact on my life.
“There has been a fair amount of awareness about the disease affecting people like my dad who were exposed to it decades ago but there will be many people who contracted the disease through contact with asbestos without probably realising.
“The big thing now is that, with the home renovation genre of TV reality shows so popular, a lot of people are into DIY renovations and can be exposed to asbestos in old homes without realising the danger, or that asbestos is in the material.
“I fear a new wave of asbestos cancer unless we really lift the awareness of being careful and checking it out before knocking out walls and doing home renos.”
A long list of league legends will accompany Gilly on different stretches along the way and he has been overwhelmed with interest and support, including from his fellow FOGs (Former Origin Greats).
He will camp out under the stars in swags in between towns or at hotels and places of supporters when in ‘civilisation’. Fund-raising dinners have been organised for Mackay and Rockhampton during the walk.
Gillmeister wishes to thank those who have proudly supported Taking An Axe to Asbestos, including:
Jeep dealers of Queensland
Queensland Origin Formers Greats (FOGS)
Turner Freeman Lawyers
Queensland Government (Workplace Health and Safety)
The fund-raisers - MACKAY: Friday night, October 3; ROCKHAMPTON: Friday night October 10
For details about how to get tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org