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Wounded Heroes @ The Coalface

For the last three years, CrossFit gyms across the country have gotten behind an initiative to raise money for Wounded Heroes Australia – an organisation providing 24/7 crisis support to current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force veterans and their families.

The event is called 24 Hours of Heroes and this year 33 gyms participated, with teams of six at each gym completing 24 Hero workouts over 24 hours – a hero workout is named to honour a serviceperson who has died in the line of duty, they are known to be grueling mentally and physically.

CrossFit Muswellbrook participated, as well as several gyms in Townsville, Cairns, and Harvey Bay.

Six teams participated at Muswellbrook, starting workouts at 8am on a Saturday, going all day and through the night until 8am the following day.

CrossFit Muswellbrook owner Nat Murphy said it was inspiring to watch her community test themselves.

“As always, the event was incredibly challenging yet rewarding.

“The sense of community that emerged during the event was remarkable and truly embodies our core value of unity. That last workout at 7am I stood back and took it all in so grateful for the tin shed and the people in it.

“It was a chance to support and fight for those that gave us the freedoms we have today, that at a stage in their life they don’t have the means to support themselves,” said Nat.

Wounded Heroes Australia was established in 2007, and started as a place for current and ex-serving members families to meet while their partners were overseas.

“In 2010/11 we then had a mum in Townsville who had a two-year-old and was pregnant. Her husband was deployed, and she broke her hip. Hubby wanted to come home, but she didn’t want him to, so we sent some money up to the Brigadier in Townsville and told them to fix everything up for her,” said Wounded Heroes Australia CEO Martin Shaw.

Wounded Heroes @ The Coalface
Photos: Shannayalice Photography.

“When I started, the revenue for the first year was about $50,000, but when you’re talking about, on average, 13 to 14 homeless veterans in any one night, we need so much more now. It can be very hard being a charity when you’ve got 60,000 other registered charities to compete against for funding.

“When a member gets discharged it is so tough. They hand everything back in, they lose their mates and they come home and sit on the couch and feel like they just don’t fit in. Our end goal with the CrossFit event, other than awareness and funding, is to hopefully transition members of the Defence Force into a CrossFit or some sort of physical training.

“To get the guys into a gym, to have a place to go and find another home. That is our ultimate dream.”

Wounded Heroes has just five employees that work from their office in Ipswich, and Martin admits without the money raised through 24 Hours of Heroes they may not still be here.

The event started in 2021, Event Director Dan Olford said this year’s was the biggest one so far.

“In 2021 we raised $20,000 and it grew from there with four gyms raising $110,000 in the second year, 24 gyms last year raised $307,000 and then 34 gyms this year.

“We’re their largest donator and what drew us to them was their work on the ground, it’s very swift acting with all their publicly donated money going straight to the charitable work.”

Martin said they pride themselves on giving “a hand up, not a handout” and he often finds himself going out to mine sites to let them know their organisation is there to help.

“They often think I’m only going in to ask for money, but I just want to extend my help to them because often people don’t know what to do when a veteran comes to them needing help.”

For more info on Wounded Heroes Australia:

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