What's important here is to bring awareness to as many people as possible for both charities so that the donations can continue well after our ride”aussiefundraiser, Alan Nash
Back in August this year, the Aussie Fundraiser team, an initiative of Alan Nash and Tommy Soderstrom, owners of El Galleon Dive Resort and Asia Divers, Philippines, were given a royal send-off on their fundraising journey around Australia.Since then they've been busy raising funds for Project AWARE and the Springboard Foundation as well as raising awareness about aquatic pollution and the appalling conditions some children face in the Philippines. From dive gear auctions, raffles, or BBQ, Alan and Tommy are never short of ideas when it comes to raising funds for these two causes very close to their hearts. “They’ve raised nearly US$16k for Project AWARE Foundation and Springboard Foundation which is incredible. But what’s even more remarkable is the level of awareness Tommy and Allan have raised for the marine debris issue and the problems faced by the street kids in the Philippines. Our hats go off to you!” says Joanne Marston, Project AWARE Associate Director Asia Pacific. Along the way, they've taken part in a Dive Against Debris activity off the Glenelg area but poor weather conditions stopped most of the diving teams from completing the search for debris. Of those that did, in the small area around the jetty, two bags of rubbish were removed, a Port Jackson shark was unhooked from a snagged and broken fishing line, and an intact, encrusted fishing rod and reel was found on the beach. “Ocean debris affects us all and if nothing is done it will become a much bigger problem that will hinder our way of life. There is also the very real threat of these massive islands of debris landing on our beaches, any day. It has happened and will happen again, so something needs to be done and we intend to make a start with awareness. We hope that the people in power will make a stand and do something to curb the problem,” says Alan Nash. On 8 October 2011, the duo made a special appearance at ODEX in Brisbane by riding to the hall, giving a talk and conducting a raffle draw. Five scuba dive centers hosted these bikers with a beach cleanup, leisure dives followed by a BBQ where a bronze dollar donation was collected from all participants with F&B purchase. The five participating dive centers were: St Geoge Underwater Centre (Sydney), Vision Divers (Melbourne), Adelaide Scuba (Adelaide), Perth Scuba (Perth) and Devocean Dive (Gold Coast). Non-divers and non-Australians have also got behind this project by donating a sum or a specific amount for each leg of the distance covered if not the entire 14,000 km of the journey. “Raising a specific amount is not the ultimate goal. We have raised so far a few thousand dollars and have a few more thousands pledged if we make the distance. What's important here is to bring awareness to as many people as possible for both charities so that the donations can continue well after our ride,” says Nash. The two bikers finished their Aussie bike ride at the PADI Asia Pacific offices in Sydney on 17 October. They'll return home to the Philippines soon and we're sure they'll be given a heroes welcome! You can follow the Aussie Fundraiser journey on their website Aussie Fundraiser.