In response to Covid-19 restrictions, the 41st annual RT Edgar Virtual Rip to River event hosted by the Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club went online for this year’s 2020/2021 event. In keeping with tradition, the fundraising event focused on participation, enjoyment, having fun, being healthy and active. When it comes to these things being important for all people, people with disabilities can often be overlooked in the event planning and be forgone the opportunity to participate. Not this year.
Bruce Honey, Vice President of the Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club commented
‘[There is] a surprising lack of knowledge around wheelchair sports or all abilities sport in general from some people, so from that point it was great to raise awareness’
For the first time, the Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club were not restricted by terrain and offered the RT Edgar 5km and 10km wheelchair race as part of the event. Competitors could complete the 5km or 10km race in any location, even allowing for interstate participants to enter. This enabled wheelchair users to choose a circuit that they were comfortable to navigate and to compete with others for the fastest time.
‘there was a lot of talk and chatter with a lot of local people, club members and contacts about it being a great idea and great opportunity’ said Mr Honey.
There were a lot of lessons learnt from the experience, as with many organisations that include people with disabilities for the first time.
‘it was always about getting people active and raising awareness around wheelchair sports and events, and to make people think.’ said Mr Honey.
This goal was achieved and wheelchair participants such as Geelong Adaptive Sports athlete, Chris Midgely, were grateful for the opportunity.
Photo credit – Life Saving Victoria