Moama farmer, Luke Barlow, developed a passion for fitness late in life, inspired by his wife, Kate and their two teenage boys, who were already hooked on competing in fitness races.
Now, he could well be Australia’s most formidable fundraising farmer.
On 7-9 May, Luke will tackle one of the biggest physical challenges of his life when he undertakes the vigorous Ultraman Australia in Noosa —a three-day ultra-triathlon spanning 515km, raising funds for Dolly’s Dream to take a stand against childhood bullying and cyberbullying.
Founded in memory of Dolly Everett, who took her own life at the age of 14 following an extensive period of bullying and cyberbullying, Dolly’s Dream’s yearly Do It For Dolly Day aims to empower and educate the community to prevent all forms of bullying and raise awareness about its devastating effects.
With two teenage boys, Luke said by raising funds for Dolly’s Dream he hopes to see the ongoing support of children in his community, and all communities.
“As a father of two teenage boys myself, I feel it’s important for them to have strong role models and be allowed access to education that is both safe and supportive.
“The end of bullying would lead to a stronger community for everyone. It’s not just in schools, it’s in universities, places of employment and our homes as well. The message ‘be kind’ speaks to all of us and would assist a safe and supportive environment for everyone to enjoy life.
“Through each race I participate in, I hope to not only raise funds for the organisation but raise awareness and really get the message of their organisation across. With my boys now being teenagers, it’s Dolly’s Dream that really tugged at my heart strings.”
Aiming to raise $10,000 for Dolly’s Dream, this isn’t the first fundraiser Luke has held. Last year, Luke braved the 11°C chilly waters of the Murray for a swim to raise money for the fight against MND. Further to this, he also made a pledge to donate $10 of his own money, for anyone who could swim to the Pylon to contribute some extra cash. Luke ended up with a team of 21 brave swimmers and raised $1,500.
“When I realised the potential my voice had within the community, I thought of Dolly’s Dream. We all remember seeing it on the news when it happened, and I especially felt a connection being a farmer in a rural town just like Kate and Tick, Dolly’s parents. I knew I wanted to do something for Dolly next,” said Luke.
“I never expect to win my races, but through raising money for Dolly’s Dream and especially participating in Ultraman, I want my boys to know that they don’t have to be the best at everything, and it’s ok to not win. By teaching this lesson early in life, I hope the pressures for children and teenagers decrease and kids are more supportive of one another.”
At just 14 years old, Dolly Everett’s last drawing read ‘speak even if your voice shakes’. This chilling message is now the mantra Kate and Tick, Dolly’s parents, live by through their foundation Dolly’s Dream.
With the funds from Do It For Dolly Day going to a number of initiatives including a free mental health support line with trained counsellors, Dolly’s mother and charity co-founder Kate Everett said that not only the monetary contribution from Luke, but his voice and presence in his community, means the world to them.
“Such a well-known father in the community who is speaking out about the effects of bullying and online bullying will have a huge impact on both parents and children in Moama. Through spreading the word, lives can be saved, and through the funds raised for Do It For Dolly Day, we can continue to create a kinder community by changing the behaviours around bullying. This includes supporting our online anti-bullying workshops for students, parents and teachers,” said Kate.
With technology constantly evolving, and the landscape that children communicate and engage with changing alongside it, Kate said that it’s the attitudes and culture that the organisation is looking to shift.
“We work hard to continually update and develop vital bullying prevention and online safety programs to kids, families, schools and communities across Australia, ultimately with the goal to create a cultural change where kindness and compassion with each other is the new norm.”
To support Luke, visit https://fundraise.dollysdream.org.au/fundraisers/lukebarlow/ultraman-2022–doitfordolly