Steve's the Ultimate Roadie, Raising Over $450,000 for QLD Kids - 96five Family Radio

Steve’s the Ultimate Roadie, Raising Over $450,000 for QLD Kids

He's raised a stack of cash for Variety, who have just added a new event to its annual road-trip fundraising calendar, with the Dash for Kids perfectly suited to families.

By Justin RouillonWednesday 21 Jul 2021Inspirational StoriesReading Time: 3 minutes

Main Image: Variety volunteer fundraiser Steve Whittam with his Aussie Rock themed vehicle (Justin Rouillon).  Listen: Steve speaks with Justin Rouillon about his thirteen years of involvement with the Variety Bash, and the new event, the Dash for Kids.

For over thirty years the Variety Bash has been a much loved opportunity for car enthusiasts to see the outback and raise money to support children who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs.

Variety has now added a new event to their annual road trip calendar – the Variety Dash for Kids, which has been named for its shorter duration, taking place from November 8 to 13.

The inaugural event will see participants travelling from Gladstone to Hervey Bay, via Blackwater and Carnavon Gorge, with a highlight being an overnight stay Rockybar Station, the final resting place of legendary Australian bushman RM Williams.

Steve Whittam is a volunteer fundraiser and long time participant in the Variety Bash, and told 96five that the new event opened up the road trips to families.

“The new event is designed for families to bring their 4WD, or even their normal car, as long as they don’t mind getting it a bit dusty on some dirt roads.

“It opens the events up to more people, rather than the other events which are more selective with the vehicles you have to have.”

Image: Justin Rouillon

Steve has been a long time participant in the Variety Bash with his unique creation, the Aussie Rock themed car.

“This is my thirteenth year since 2009, and the Aussie Rock car has raised over $450,000 for Variety.  This year we’re heading off from Winton, travelling to the Birdsville Races before making our way up to Yeppoon.

“The car (a 1978 ZH Fairlane) is basically a sound system with a car strapped underneath it!  It’s 4000 watts of sound driven by four amplifiers, and when it’s cranked up you can hear us coming from about a kilometre away.”

“The Bash is a great way to do something for the community.  It’s a combination of being able to support kids, as well as having fun with some old cars, meeting new people and going to places I never would have gone before.”

Steve Wakerley is the Variety Queensland CEO and said that the Dash for Kids will also help regional towns, who have struggled over the past 18 months.

“In Queensland the Bash is a wonderful fundraiser, but when it travels through the state, it brings over $1.2 million worth of economic impact into the towns we visit.

“Those towns have done it tough with droughts and now COVID, it’s a real great impact financially for those communities.

“The Dash for Kids will also go into those communities, and we hope that over the years this event will have the same impact on the economy of those towns and the people living there.”

Variety Queensland CEO Steve Wakerley. Image: Justin Rouillon

But alongside all the fun comes the reward of helping Queensland kids and families through life’s challenges, letting them know they’re not alone.

Six year old Kohan has a life threatening condition and is one of many children that have received support from Variety, with mum Rachel saying she’s grateful everyday for the assistance.

“Kohan has an identical twin brother Chet, but we knew before he was born that he had only formed half of his heart.  All of his organs were the wrong way around, so I knew there were going to be complications from before Kohan was born.

“I wanted to give Kohan every chance to fight and have time with myself and his twin brother.  He has had three lots of open heart surgery and thousands of procedures.”

Rachel Irvin with son Kohan who was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and situs inversus organs. Image: Justin Rouillon.

“So far I’ve been able to enjoy six beautiful years with my twin boys together and Variety has made that possible with access to medical equipment and a specialised bed that allows Kohan to have a safe night sleep without getting injured during the night.

“Variety has allowed us to create memories and spend so much time out of hospital which I’m so grateful for every single day.”

To find out more about the Variety Dash for Kids, check out the Variety website for details about registration costs and fundraising targets.