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250 cars, 500 participants, 7 nights, and over 4000 kms.

Amanda Fry

By AMANDA FRY

The open road can be very therapeutic, especially when processing emotions related to grief or loss. Even in my early twenties, I have always loved driving into the horizon not really knowing when I will get where I am going, or sometimes even where I would end up.  It’s my time to be really alone in my thoughts and deal with whatever is troubling me. I absolutely inherited this from my father, we are both ‘journeyman’ filled with an unquenchable desire to explore anything new and different. In a poem by the same name, my father summed it up beautifully.

But this is mine, this dream

A distant light to start

To place my step on virgin hill

That I might find my heart

So when I met James Freeman last year, who set up Shitbox Rally five years ago, I was hooked. He has created an adventure to not only bring people together with shared personal experiences as a community, but done it through a multiple layered journey that in itself is therapeutic and one that generates such positive energy in the search for a cure to cancer.  He harnessed his own loss when his parents passed and in the process opened up a whole new way to travel, make friends and explore destinations in this vast country that offers life lessons far beyond their physical beauty.

“At first, you think the rally is the drive.”

At first, you think the rally is the drive, and this year we cover nearly 4 000 kms in seven days between Perth and Darwin through the Pilbara and Kimberley regions.  So as you can imagine with the Gibb River Road as part of the trip, there are a lots of adventurers participating. But, as your planning progresses, you soon realise the journey started the day you signed on for fundraising. And at each point along the way as the actual drive draws closer your commitment and investment increases in very unexpected ways.

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We all have a tipping point when it comes to starting to actively fundraise and for me, it began with my friend Margot. After the birth of her second child in her twenties, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and left us within three months. For a group of twelve friends, it was the first time outside our biological family that we had lost one of our own and the pain was excruciating. We had each other to lean on to deal with our frustration and the unjust nature of a friend who would not see her daughter and son grow up and whose extroverted nature and love of life was missed at every get together. Not everyone has that kind of support network and not everyone can be open and talk so easily about loss – grief by its nature is different for us all.

So when you find a way like I have to honour the memory of someone you loved dearly and do it in a way that is positive and proactive as well as being fun, then it’s easy to see why so many people want to join the Shitbox family. Every person on the rally from the volunteer support crew, who work through the night to keep our shitboxes on the road, to the ladies in the outback towns making bacon and egg sandwiches for us each morning are committed to this extended community. The full impact I am sure will not really hit my four friends and I until we are sitting in a pub in Darwin and we acknowledge the rally is at an end for this year at least.

Until then, our journey continues. We have raised around $15 000 collectively for the Cancer Council, and now we actually need to find the three cars we will drive in Shitbox and as of today we have purchased only one. Only two more to go and then we can focus on our fancy dress costumes!

Shitbox Rally is not a race but rather a challenge to achieve the unthinkable: to drive cars worth $1000 or less across Australia via some of its most arduous roads – all to raise money for cancer research. Shitbox Rally was founded in 2009 by James Freeman after both of his parents died from cancer within 12 months of each other as a way of raising money and awareness in the fight against cancer – a disease that now affects so many people. Over the last four years, Shitbox Rally has raised over $3 million for cancer research, making the rally the largest independent fundraiser for the Cancer Council.

The rally is a reward for all the fundraising the dedicated supporters do to help find a cure for cancer and it’s a chance to meet like-minded people and see our vast and beautiful country in a totally unique way. For further information or to support the cause with a donation, visit http://www.facebook.com/shitboxrally or www.shitboxrally.com.au.

Amanda Fry is a driver in Team Holysmoke! Follow Amanda’s Shitbox Rally journey on Instagram at @onebreathfrombelieving. Amanda is an active fundraiser for important causes, an animal lover and an ardent traveller.

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