December 2017, my son, mentioned that he and a few mates were going to do a 450km relay ski over 3 days from Murray Bridge to Renmark. At the time, I thought that it may be fun so I asked if they needed a ‘Roady’ to drive the back-up vehicle.
March, 2018, I arrived at Murray Bridge, with the Ski 4 T team, still a little unsure of what to expect, while setting up our camp a bloke wandered over with a beer – “Gidday, I’m Bill Stockman, I started this show”. I realised early that everyone was there for a reason, supporting a mate or having felt the presence of the ‘blackdog’. It was good to talk openly about mental health and suicide, its prevention, its domino effect on all and the need to be there and have the conversation – Are you Ok?
I was nominated for the position of Vice Chairperson at the AGM in 2018, a position I still hold, now supporting our Chairperson, Mark Facy. I am also a member of the grants committee. Being a member of the Ski for Life family gives me the opportunity to help remove the stigma attached to mental health, wellbeing, and suicide prevention by participating, fundraising, having conversations and supporting rural and remote communities.
Over the years I have held a number of positions within the committee and as a family we have participated in the water ski event during the March long weekend from Murray Bridge to Renmark. In 2022, we saw Ski for Life enter its 10th year and together with the hard working committee, we continue to drive the legacy of Mr Bill Stockman and the founding families of Ski for Life organisation.
In 2017 I attended a fundraising event organised by the Watt's Up ski team in Mount Gambier and it was from that moment that I realised I wanted to be more than just a participant in the organisation. So in 2018 our family put together a ski team and we join the water ski relay from Murray Bridge to Renmark, from there we have continued our involvement in Ski for Life. As a result of the event, through the hard work of our ski team's fundraising and community support, we are now in a position where we are distributing funds through projects of work which Ski for Life is proud to take to rural and remote communities addressing this horrendous issue we have around mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention. It is this that continues to drive me and our committee as we combine our love of water skiing and delivering support to these areas .
This year I have taken over the Chairman's role from Jane Kellock and have the privilege of leading our committee into its 10th year of Ski for Life.
I had seen Ski for Life on social media but with my feet firmly planted on the land, I didn't know how I could be involved until I was given the opportunity to become part of the Ski for Life committee at the end of 2022.
I've worked in health for 23 years and have experienced first hand the impact that mental health and suicide has on all walks of life. I have recently transitioned into project management and part of my role with Ski for Life is to run around in the background, supporting the Committee to create the amazing Ski for Life event every year.
Five years ago I ventured on my first Ski for Life trip with our Ski 4 T team. Over the years, the lack of awareness around mental health and suicide have touched too close to home, so what better time to get the guys together and support this great cause. I soon worked out this was going to be an annual event for us.
After some gentle encouragement, I decided to contribute to the cause in a more hands on way as Treasurer for the committee.
I have had a soft spot for the river my whole life, at the age of 14 months, Dad took me on the kneeboard and there's been no turning back. The family and I grab every opportunity to head up to the river and get behind a boat. I want my kids to have the same great experiences and memories growing up around the river as I did, as well as educate them on this great cause from a young age.
Social Media & Marketing
After my Dad and one of my brothers came back from Ski for Life 2018, hearing their stories, the memories and the new friendships they had made, we knew straight away this was something our family needed to be apart of. So the following year our whole family along with some friends and extending family we entered our own team! The event was unlike anything I had ever been involved in before.. I am not much of a skier myself in fact my 3 siblings and I all learnt how to ski on our first Ski For Life trip in 2019!
For me it was more than just the skiing, it was the lifetime friendships formed in just 3 days, the incredible moving stories you hear and just a while lot of fun! This is now a weekend I look forward and is easily the highlight my year
At the end of my first trip I knew I wanted to become more involved and join the committee. I have had a few roles over the years, I am currently running the social media channels and helping with the management of the website.
My family love water skiing and spending time on the river and mental health and wellbeing is something that really resonates with me at my core and the opportunity to be involved in such a great volunteer organisation that is raising funds and helping support initiatives across our regional communities that promote mental health and wellbeing is very heart warming and a real honour to be involved in.
Website + Communications
After first hearing about and being involved in the 2020 event, both myself and Kayla (another, new committee member) decided we would like to be involved not only in future Ski for Life events, but also in becoming a part of raising awareness and support for mental health in the community. As a high school teacher, I see daily the value in educating young adults on what mental health is, how it can be managed and the vast range of people who are affected. It was my obvious love for the river that drew me to the event in the first place, now realising its significance as a part of my own mental health journey.
I am currently assisting with the social media and website. Along with having a large involvement with the event logistics, communications with teams and event documentation.
I first heard about the Ski For Life event while watching a TV show on the ABC, Bill Stockman was talking about mental health, he explained that along with help from his family and friends he had a charity that water-skied 456km along the Murray River, raising money and awareness for Mental Health and suicide prevention.
As a family we love spending time on the water water-skiing, We love the Murray River and mental health struggles have touched our family, so we decided we would give it a go.
Initially we were along for the adventure, how great to spend time with family & friends, water-skiing and camping along the Mighty Murray River, all while raising money and awareness. The water-skiing and camping adventure was everything we hoped for but it was evident that the event was so more more right from the first morning all the teams met at Sturt Reserve to get the event under way!! We had a great time on our first event, after our first Ski For life event we all agreed this will continue to be something we do with family and friends for many years to come
I have been a part of Ski for Life since 2018 as a member of ‘Ski for T’. In the beginning, the idea of a group of people skiing for 3 days straight sounded like just a great weekend away, however as I learned more about the event and when I experienced it for the first time in 2018 it was clear that it is far greater than just a good time.
The message ski for life promotes about mental health and looking out for mates is one that I support strongly.
The event itself is amazing, meeting the people involved and experiencing the supportive and fun-loving culture while promoting important and sometimes challenging messaging must be experienced to understand.
I have stepped into a Grants Committee position, and I am loving seeing and understanding the programs and events that Ski for Life supports with the money raised from the hard-earned fundraising efforts of both Ski for Life teams, and the wider Ski for Life community.
If you have a program or even that you think might meet the Grant Application guidelines, I strongly encourage you apply and look forward to hearing about how you can support and make an impact on your community.
Media and Partnerships
I first learned about Ski For Life in March 2018 whilst in Renmark visiting my parents & swimming at Jane Eliza with my daughter. I was intrigued by the roar of excitement and cheering coming from downstream at the Renmark Club as the skiers arrived for their grand finale. At the time I didn’t realise what it was. Being a skier, having grown up in Renmark and recognising the importance of the mental health wellbeing message, it was obvious to me that I had to be involved. In Feb 2019 I emailed Ski For Life to enquire how I could actively offer my services and participate in the next event. I turned up on the first day not knowing anyone and enjoyed the privilege of participating in many of the event activities including skiing with the Ski 4T teams, flying with Ski Spy Bob and providing support to the committee throughout the event. I was embraced by the Ski For Life family and just like that – I knew I was “hooked” ! What a terrific cause and for me, a fantastic way to spend the March long weekend by sharing community spirit with likeminded people who are river passionate and committed to raising awareness and promoting mental health wellbeing and suicide prevention.
Aside from the skiing, there are so many great fun activities that go along with this event; it is such incredible fun. Community embracement along the way, the camaraderie and sharing of stories, the remembrance ceremony, camp dinners & auction night plus the humorous possibility of wearing a tutu at some point (okay I have had to wear that twice!!)…. and the water fights through 5 locks ensure for a fun, family weekend! It is an addictive, heartfelt and spectacular event!
My role is to promote the event through media & partnerships. We have had tremendous support from the media and local communities, including South Aussie with Cosi, Triple M, Murray Pioneer, Riverland 5RM & Magic and Murray Bridge 5MU & Power FM, as well many of our event partners.
Ski for Life Ambassador
When I was 16, I lost 98% of my eyesight overnight due to a rare genetic syndrome that as you can imagine turned my world upside down and through a whole lot of challenges my way. One of the things I loved before losing my sight was water skiing and thanks to my old man being pretty determined to not let this stop me we found a way to get back out there behind the boat. Among all the things I could no longer do due to being blind water skiing was the one thing I still enjoyed. The impact it had on me not just physically but also on my mental health was massive. Fast forward a few years and I took my skiing to a whole new level above when I could see competing in the Southern 80, a ski race on the Murray and was the first blind person to do so.
The Ski for Life committee at the time came across this story and asked if I would consider being the ambassador. When they explained it was skiing 456km’s I thought it was a pretty ballsy thing to ask a blind guy to do but when I found out more about eh cause there was no way I could say no.
Skiing has had huge benefits on my mental health when I first lost my eyesight and it continues to do so even now.
As the ambassador it is my role to promote Ski for Life at every opportunity, continually kick off conversations about the cause and live our mission by promoting the importance of mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention. I am extremely proud to be the ambassador for this incredible organisation as I come into my 6th year in the role which is looking to be another huge one!
The much smaller Ski For Life ‘family’ reached out for support after their second event realising that raising awareness can also impact on those who have lived experience of ill mental health, suicidal thoughts or a loss to suicide. Their enquiries led them to StandBy which was very new to South Australia at that time. I joined the third event with about 20 participants and have been involved ever since then including the 2022 event with 26 boats and 290 participants.
I have been involved in Ski for Life as the ‘professional support’ but have been involved in the Committee in more recent years. My current role of Professional Support means providing information, advice and emotional support where required both in the planning of and during the event.
After watching the event take place in 2018 I thought it was a great opportunity to grab a bunch of mates to push our busted up not so athletic bodies all for a great cause and participate in the 2019 event.
After the 2019 event I joined the committee and have been a part of arranging the logistics for the 2020 and 2021 events (as well as skiing the 456 km in 2021) and now on to logistics since the 2022 event.
My current role in the committee is Logistics Coordinator so I am responsible for coordinating all things on the water from maps, schedules, permits, lock times, transport, briefings and road crews