As the sun came up in Mackay on Saturday morning, 1,000 participants lined up along River Street near Paxton’s Markets for the start of the Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland River 2 Reef Charity Ride.
Organisers of the annual event were thrilled to announce that $100,000 had been raised in 2019 – the most that has been raised in the event’s nine-year history – taking the total raised over nine years to well over half a million dollars.
As the new Naming Rights Sponsor of the event, Hand Heart Pocket contributed $25,000 and also agreed to match the first $50,000 raised, dollar-for-dollar. Due to this extra support from Hand Heart Pocket, for the first time in the event’s history, a third local charity will benefit. The Suicide Prevention Community Action Planning Group’s Men’s Campaign based at ‘selectability joined RACQ CQ Rescue and the Mackay and District Sporting Wheelies as beneficiaries of the event.
Among this year’s ride participants was Hand Heart Pocket’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark who joined the Mackay District Freemasons team.
“This was my first time doing the River 2 Reef Charity Ride and while it was cold to begin with, it turned out to be a lovely day,” Gary said.
A broad cross-section of the community participated, including families as well as those well over 70 years of age.
The volunteers and supporters kept the riders going and by mid-morning many of the participants had crossed the finish line, before having some well-earned brunch at the Bluewater Quay.
Gary said by supporting this regional community event, Hand Heart Pocket was furthering some of their own charitable goals.
“Our work is focused on alleviating suffering and empowering people to lead better lives. Also improving men’s mental and physical health is one of our priorities, hence us having chosen a local suicide prevention awareness campaign as the third beneficiary,” Gary said.
“We thank the local Freemasons for bringing this regional community event to our attention and for their support in the lead up to the event and on the day. We look forward to seeing the impacts that will be made by the benefiting charities,” he said.
Photo: The Mackay District Freemasons team at the starting line.