Jess Gardiner is a former student of mine who finished Year 12 last year. She’s been riding motorbikes for six years and has made the Australian 6-Day Enduro team to compete in Finland in August. Although a great deal of the cost is covered by Motorcycling Australia, she is still a female athlete in a male-dominated sport, so sponsorship is more difficult to attain even though she competes at the highest level in Australia. A couple of months ago, Jess posted on Facebook that she had made the team so I jumped in without thinking and offered to run a Fundraising Golf Day and Dinner. I made her a website and organised the event and associated promotions in local media and social media.
This morning, after a week of miserable rain, we had just 30 golfers turn up to play golf today after expecting 80. Jess, myself and her family had worked so hard to arrange sponsorship, donations and players. The small group of golfers took to the course while Jess and her Mum drove a motorised golf cart around selling raffle tickets. They returned with more than $200 in raffle ticket sales and I began to see the potential of this small but fabulous group of people. Jess took to the course once more on the cart. At times I think she may have forgotten it was a buggy and imagined it as her motorbike – what’s that saying, “All golf courses should be turned into motocross tracks”? Jess definitely adopted that idea today and had a ball going around to each group and talking to them about her dreams of success in Finland.
Following the golf we took to the function room for the dinner. Thankfully a few more people turned up for the dinner, allowing us to sell the last of the raffle tickets. I’m fairly certain that every person in the room took home something from the raffle! The auction was a raging success even though I doubted my skills as a first-time auctioneer. In the end, that small but awesome group of people raised just under $3,000 for Jess and her trip to Finland. Everybody in that room chose awesome tonight 🙂
I think the Jess I have come to know over the past 4 years, is the Jess those people saw today and that’s why they were happy to hand over their money for such a great cause. At school, Jess was always polite, completed her work and was very humble regarding her success as a motocross rider. Jess is the kind of young woman I hope my ten year old daughter looks up to as a role model. She maintains a construction job while training and competing in enduro motocross events all over NSW and also attends karate practice three times a week. Jess is a confident young woman who is committed to her family, friends and her sport without any of the pretentious self-absorbed attitude I often see in older teenagers. She chooses awesome every day and I hope every young girl has a Jess in their world who they can look up to. Who does your little girl look up to?