Healthy Living

Skiers Conquer the Entire River Murray for Cystic Fibrosis

Skiers Conquer the Entire River Murray for Cystic Fibrosis

Although there is currently no cure for cystic fibrosis, people from all around the world are determined to change this. Organizations committed to raising funds and awareness on CF continuously work hard all year round to:

  • Improve early diagnosis, treatment, and care delivery of CF
  • Promote education and training on CF
  • Provide educational information, advice, and support to individuals living with CF in all stages of their lives
  • Accelerate breakthroughs and innovations in the field of CF research
  • Improve the benefits and services for individuals with CF
  • Encourage communication and collaboration among health-related services, governments, individuals living with CF and CF communities
  • Improve the overall well-being for individuals living with CF
  • Raise a more confident voice to campaign for change

The Cystic Fibrosis Community Care (CFCC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children, adults, families, and friends coping with or affected by CF. A rose is the official logo of CFCC, in honor of the inspirational “65 roses” story.

CFCC aims to deliver compassion and understanding, as well as respond to the different needs of all individuals within the CF community in Australia. They perform awareness programs for the public, promote CF research, and raise funds for CF through a wide range of social events and activities. These events range from joining in on local 5km runs and walkathons, to going on overseas fundraising trips and participating in other sporting obstacles.

How this group of skiers raised money for CF

Water skiers Scott Collins and Ben Berry from Victoria, Australia travelled almost 1,500 miles with their skis for over 2 weeks in order to help raise funds for CF and to monitor the health of the mighty river Murray. Murray is the 3rd longest river in the world, after the Amazon river and the Nile river.

Pulled by jet skis and jet boats in shallow water, Collins and Berry started their journey on February 23rd, 2018. “We did some research to see who’s skied the entire navigable length and we found that no one had, so we put a plan together to do so,” said Collins. In addition to raising funds, they filmed different areas of the river Murray that were never skied before – until now. They planned to use the footage to create a film on the need for better care throughout the environment. “People are happy to say it’s an iconic river and they admire it and love it but when you look at the practices on the banks it’s quite upsetting actually to see how it’s managed in some of these areas,” said Berry.

Collins and Berry’s journey began in New South Wales and took them from the Swampy Plain river all the way up to river Murray’s Mouth in South Australia. “We thought it looked OK. We were quite wrong, and the top end around Jingellic up to the Indie junction was super tough,” said Collins. They experienced a few falls, mechanical troubles with their boat, and weather changes, but fortunately, they were able to push forward and work towards their goal. “There are some of us who have been touched deeply by this disease and with the boys in particular being passionate water-skiers, it worked perfectly to blend the two together and raise money whilst also doing something different in skiing the length of the Murray” said Rosemary, Collins’s aunt.

More about Scott and Ben

Scott Collins lives in Kyabram, a town close to the Murray River, with his wife and two children. He is a businessman who works with several construction and engineering companies across Australia. Collin’s life was directly impacted by CF when the disease took his mother. The tragedy led him on a path towards raising awareness on CF and fundraising for CFCC.

Ben Berry lives north of Albury with his wife and their three children. Currently, Berry works as a River Murray Works Coordinator at Soil Conservation Services. He regulates the harmful flows of the river through erosion control measures. Berry’s passion for the river Murray comes from his childhood, growing up in a small town called Echuca. It was there that he was introduced to his other passion, water skiing.

Expectations exceeded

Collin and Berry’s initial target was $40,000; however, with countless heartwarming donations, they were able to raise over $71,000 at the end of their journey. “Our fundraising has been fantastic, which is the main part and the more money we raise the better for a cause that affects so many,” said Collins. He and Berry are keeping their website open for a bit longer for those who wish to continue making donations for a good cause – “To be able to give back to families who have CF or to give to families who have CF is really special. We had a family drive up from Ararat to Robinvale and spend half the day with us and we took the two CF affected kids water skiing for the day…it’s great to see where our money is going to go,” said Collins. So far, they have been able to raise $80,000 and all proceeds are going to the Cystic Fibrosis Community Care.

To date, there are numerous charities and organizations, much like CFCC, dedicated to making a difference within the CF community. There are several ways to get involved – school fundraiser, office fundraiser, bake sale, music festival, charity dinner, and more - and every cent goes to funding research, services, and support for people living with CF. The overall aim is to create a brighter future for those coping with the disease by improving standards of care and providing support each and every step of the way.


Photo: The Border Mail