Maree Stephenson has always loved a challenge. In May this year, she set out on an attempt to cross all 10 Australian deserts on her fat-tyre bicycle called Banjo – a feat that will take 139 days.
“Challenges bring out the best in me as a person and human being and let me learn more about myself especially under pressure and out of my comfort zone,” Maree said.
Maree’s challenge is raising money for Beyond Blue, a charity close to her heart.
“A series of difficult events over the last 10 years have taken a toll on my mental health and I have struggled with anxiety and depression over this time,” she said. “I was ready for another challenge to help me move through this stage in life and be my best self for my family.”
The community of Sandgate has been a significant support to Maree both to prepare for and during her challenge. She received donations of essential items from local businesses before she set out. Then, when she needed help to purchase a two-way communication, tracking and SOS device, and pay for the satellite and Telstra subscriptions, she turned to her local community again.
“Being a Sandgate girl, my plan B was to approach at least 10 businesses in the Sandgate community who know me well. This process was amazing as each of the businesses were happy and excited they could support our cause.”
Support came in from a number of local business including Chemist Warehouse Sandgate, Laurels Beauty Salon, Ironwood Cottage Organic Whole Foods, Fiona Green Podiatry, Market Square Meats, Sandgate Real Estate, Bruce Connolly Builders, Sandgate Wreckers, Terry Duffy Optometrist, and Sandgate Automatics. And she has had constant support from her parents along the journey too.
“Mum and Dad have lived in Sandgate for 56 years,” Maree said. “Their support is remarkable and fuel for my soul. They are sending my postal packs to towns in time for me to collect and make sure they’re packed with love and care and other essentials items - like Minties.”
Maree will complete her challenge on 17 September in Birdsville. To keep up-to-date on Maree’s journey or to donate to her cause visit the10desertchallenge.com