I now have three left that I will attempt this year: The Cook Straight (New Zealand), the Strait of Gibraltar (Morocco) and the Tsugaru Straight (Japan).
In attempting these swims, I am hoping to raise money and awareness for a local hero, Tom Hawthorne.
Late last year, three days before Christmas, Tom surprised his family by returning home after two years in Canada and South America. He wasn’t expected home until January the 5th.
On Christmas Day, the Hawthorne family went swimming at the local Dumaresq Dam. Tom left separately to drive to a Christmas Party before their traditional family Christmas dinner. The rest of his family followed in the car behind him, and saw the head-on collision involving their son Tom. Unconscious with serious head injuries, Tom was airlifted to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle on Christmas night.
Tom then spent two weeks in the ICU at John Hunter, followed by two weeks in the Brain Injury Ward. Tom’s next big step will be moving to the Hunter Brain Injury Clinic in Newcastle, for approximately three months.
As a result of this awful accident, Tom is now faced with some incredible challenges. His accident and long-term recovery will now see him re-learning everyday tasks, facing the possibility of not being able to drive or play contact sports again and the possibility of vision impairment. Serious injuries like Tom’s not only have great physical tolls, but also have great mental and financial impacts. Tom will face frustration, exhaustion and possible depression throughout his journey to re-learn tasks that we take for granted every day. Tom’s family (mainly his parents, Jon and Kate), will need to spend a large part of their time in Newcastle.
I have been fortunate enough to have previously swum for people and charities that are close to my heart. This is no different. Tom is a young man with his whole life in front of him, and it breaks my heart to see him and his family go through something so tragic.
I know that when I am struggling with fatigue, hunger, thirst, cold, nausea, stings and bites, I use people like Tom as motivation to help put my 15-20 hours of swimming into perspective and push through the pain barrier, by recognising that there are people who are experiencing worse struggles, and over years.
Tom’s recovery will now take place in Newcastle, which will be another challenge, as his family are valued members of the Armidale Community, and will be impacted financially. Tom’s family have not asked me for a thing, but I would like to use my remaining swims to highlight and support Tom and his family’s situation.
I have been so proud and humbled by the support I have received from families, friends and other people from all over the world during the swims I have completed for numerous causes. It is truly an honour to use my swimming as way to raise awareness for real heroes undergoing incredible challenges. Tom is one of those people. Therefore, I have set up a GoFundMe page, to allow people to donate and help this young man with his challenges ahead.
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