When the going gets tough….. the ocean crazy among us go Tough Mudder! We chat with Project AWARE’s very own fundraising team, Lauren Wiskerson and Orsi Fulop, who both endured one of the toughest events on the planet. And, all in the name of conservation.
Why did you get Project AWARE involved in Tough Mudder?
Lauren: I know from personal experience that endurance events are great fundraisers and Tough Mudder is an opportunity for Project AWARE supporters around the globe to team up in support of our ocean.
What made you do the race yourself?
Lauren: I swore I wasn’t going to do it after an injury last year but I love the challenge of an endurance race. As the images of all our fundraisers came in throughout 2017 I was so inspired, I had to join them!
Orsi, you took part in a Tough Mudder in the UK, how easy was it to get a team together?
Orsi: A team approached me straight after we announced the possibility of fundraising for Project AWARE. They were so enthusiastic and ready to commit that I just had to join in despite never actually planning to do this challenge myself. NO REGRETS!
What was the hardest obstacle you faced?
Orsi: Electroshock Therapy! It’s a short, muddy sprint through a field of dangling wires delivering a punch at 10,000 volts every time you touch one. Yes, it is as bad as it sounds but doable and a sensation you’ll never forget. At my event, there was cold cider waiting for me at the other end, so that helped too. There is a reason why this is the last obstacle on the course!
What did your friends, family and colleagues think about you taking on the challenge?
Lauren: I was injured last year and not in good health this year. It was a true shock that I was on board for such a big challenge.
How much have your teams raised for the ocean so far?
Lauren: Team Ocean, my SoCal team has raised $3,840 and counting. The UK team has raised $2,678 and Project AWARE’s global Tough Mudder team have raised $11,593 and counting.
What tips do you have for others considering taking part in a Tough Mudder?
Lauren: If you think it will be fun, don’t let fear get in the way. I have to admit that I was intimidated, which was part of the appeal. Overcoming your fear feels amazing. Knowing you conquered some self imposed limits is empowering. The support from my donors and the camaraderie of the team pulling together made this a special event that I’m already looking forward to in 2018!
How can we get involved in 2018?
Tell us a bit about you:
Lauren Wiskerson, Fundraising Manager:
How long have you worked for Project AWARE? I’ve been on the Project AWARE team for over 13 years.
Greatest conservation victory? Sharks and rays are truly my favorite marine life. Project AWARE’s #Divers4SharksNRays campaign to secure protections at CITES CoP17 is an inspiring victory to me.
What’s your favorite dive site? A spot right next to the Kona, Hawaii airport, where the mantas come to feed. The light from your flash light attracts plankton that the mantas feed on. It’s a win win for divers and mantas.
Top piece of eco advice? Bring your own reusable water bottle everywhere you go - no excuses!
Your hope for the future? That infrastructure to live in a sustainable way is a given and business is conducted in a manner that benefits the planet and all its inhabitants.
Orsi Fulop, Fundraising & Outreach Specialist:
How long have you worked for Project AWARE? 5 years...
Greatest conservation victory? I hate plastic! Mobilizing Dive Against Debris® activists around the world to remove almost 1 million pieces of trash to date from the seafloor - Over 60% plastic - is one of the most powerful conservation victories for me. Project AWARE, through its incredible movement of ocean activists, is a true catalyst for change. I believe in people power and that our individual actions together can change anything.
What’s your favorite dive site? I have been lucky to dive many exotic dive locations as a recreational diver but the most memorable one is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia where I had my first shark sighting. I also saw a giant clam - Wow!
Top piece of eco advice? It is almost impossible to live plastic free and it’s all too easy to doubt how much difference it makes saying no to that plastic bag at the check out when most items inside are wrapped in plastic anyway. TIP: Stick a piece of paper on your fridge and tally every single item of plastic that you managed to avoid one way or the other. You’ll be amazed how much your single actions add up to in a relatively short amount of time. And don’t forget to tap yourself on the shoulder time to time. It is not easy but it’s so worth it!
Your hope for the future? It is ironic but I’d like to be told one day that my job is no longer needed because the ocean is healthy, nurtured and protected by all of us.