Kev Cook kayaks the Murray to spread awareness of mental health in rural areas

SPREAD THE WORD: Kev Cook on the banks of the Murray in Mannum on Friday. Photo: Nick Grimm.
SPREAD THE WORD: Kev Cook on the banks of the Murray in Mannum on Friday. Photo: Nick Grimm.

Many dream of paddling along the length of the River Murray for leisure, but Kev Cook’s 2500 kilometre adventure is one of spreading a message of awareness. 

Stopping in Mannum on Day 56 of his two-month long of his two month-long 2017 Mighty Murray River Kayak Trek, the Morgan resident’s journey started as a personal goal, stemming from a life-long love of the river, but quickly turned into a fundraising effort with the Australian Horizons Foundation’s (AHF) Aussies Helping Aussies charity.

“I’ve always wanted the kayak the length of the Murray, and I thought it might be a good chance to to something for charity,” he said.

Mr Cook said a friend recommended AHF – a charity he hadn’t heard of before.

“Once I looked into them and saw that they were really about mental health and suicide in rural areas, I was right on-board,” he said.

“You hear so many stories of farmers taking their own lives after losing their farms or even because of the stress or loneliness of their lives, and I just wanted to help make people more aware that these issues aren’t just in the cities.”

The Australian Horizons Foundation assists farmers and rural communities in times of crisis, providing humanitarian aid and mental health support.

Mr Cook doesn’t have a warm-up or cool-down routine, nor did any training before embarking on on his trip, but stressed the importance of preparation and self-confidence if going  

He has proven you do not have to be an “ironman or a super athlete” to take on the journey. 

Roughly 240kg of equipment fill up the kayak each day, including his tent from Kmart and sleeping bag from Big W.

“I carry enough gear for four days at a time, which includes 10 litres of water,” Mr Cook said.

“You don’t have to have the best gear, you just have to have a go.”

Mr Cook’s journal and more information about the Australian Horizons Foundation can be found on www.facebook.com/2017MightyMurrayRiverkayaktrek/.

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