Tonight’s ZOOM Meeting we finally caught up with our last Good News Award recipient of 2019: Ken Stephens.
Ken spent more than 2 months kayaking solo 2400km down the Murray River, starting back in October 2019 at Bringenbrong just below the river source in NSW and ending at the Murray mouth in South Australia. He took on this amazing adventure to fundraise for DEBRA and raise awareness for Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). EB is a rare genetic disease that causes very fragile skin. Because the skin is so fragile, it can be injured very easily (even from heat, rubbing or a bump) and result in blisters and wounds- very similar to living with third degree burns. It is estimated that there are around 1,000 people in Australia who have some form of EB and over 500,000 worldwide.
Ken learned about DEBRA and the work they do from his walking group, and after meeting with parents of children with EB he was inspired to do this epic trip. His initial target was to raise $5,000 for the cause, as this is the approximate amount it takes to provide two weeks in home nurse care for a family caring for a loved one suffering from Epidermolysis Bullosa. But Ken exceeded expectations and raised more than $6,400 and is still hoping to add to this through the sale of his kayak/ camping equipment and news of his journey.
Ken’s lone adventure took him to some beautiful parts of the Murray River and also led to some very rough living- having to paddle in heatwaves, getting soaked, camping in random fields along the banks and having to rely on the kindness of strangers. He actually met some amazing people during his journey, who when learned about his cause, welcomed him with open arms to feed and shelter him and even donate money to the foundation. It is these people that we should thank for Ken safe return.
The club first learned about Ken Stephens’ initiative from the local Messenger newspaper back in November of 2019, and we have been closely following his journey ever since. However, we had to postpone our December 2019 Good News Award till now, as Ken was still up river when we nominated him, and this was the first opportunity we had to hear from him. Ken Stephens asked the club to donate his GNA prize to DEBRA and if you also like to learn more or donate, please follow the below links: