Peter Blackshaw Real Estate Managing Principals, Andrew and Belinda Chamberlain, aren’t afraid of a challenge, and in March 2020, they will push themselves to new limits for a great cause.
The pair have pledged to participate in Digital Live Ride, a 500km bike ride across Thailand to raise funds for Hands Across the Water (HATW), a charity dedicated to enriching the lives of 350 disadvantaged Thai children. What’s more, as Andrew and Belinda embark on this life-changing ride, they will also celebrate 20 years of marriage.
HATW was founded in 2005 by former police forensic specialist Peter Baines OAM. Baines was part of the disaster recovery team for the 2004 Boxing Day Thailand tsunami where more than 227,000 people lost their lives, leaving many children homeless and without parents. For the last 14 years, the charity has given Thai orphans access to shelter, food, clothing, and medicine. However, as these children have grown and matured, the focus has shifted to education and future employment opportunities.
Steve Carroll, REA Group’s Director of Industry Relations, founder of the real estate industry’s digital coaching program Digital Live, and friend of Peter Baines, was determined to help give these children a better future, so the idea for Digital Live Ride was born. The initiative aims to bring the real estate industry together to raise much-needed funds to provide digital education and equipment to these underprivileged children, giving them a better start in life.
“With the funds raised from Digital Live Ride, and the support of some tech partners on the ground in Thailand, we can really fill a gap around technological skills and digital isolation, and provide these children with skills to navigate work in later years,” says Carroll.
The inaugural Digital Live Ride, held in April this year, saw 30 individuals from the real estate industry raise over $250,000. For 2020, Carroll has set a new goal. He will not only be expanding the experience from one to two 500km rides across Thailand, but his aim is to raise $1 million. With 90 committed riders from real estate businesses across Australia, New Zealand and the UK, he is on track to achieve it. By 2024, Carroll wants to increase the number of rides to five, and hopes that one day Digital Live Ride will become the biggest charity bike ride in the world.
“Everyone from across the real estate sector is invited to join this incredible shared experience. This is not a competition, this is an industry ride — around 85% of participants aren’t even regular cyclists. This is a place for us to remove the silos and come together as one and make a difference in the lives of those that are less fortunate. It is also an opportunity to make a difference to our own lives,” says Carroll.
Belinda and Andrew will start the 500km ride across rural Thailand in Bueng Khan, following the Mekong River before heading west into villages and rural communities. They will end their journey at one of seven HATW orphanages, and at the finish line, they will be greeted by the children they have worked so hard to support.
“The fact that we have decided to celebrate this special occasion by jumping on a bike may not come as a huge surprise. While we certainly have a love for cycling, for us, this ride is so much more than just exploring a new track. It's about supporting a great cause and doing it in an amazing and challenging way,” says Belinda.
“This ride is about providing the children of Thailand the choices and opportunities our amazing four children have been afforded during our 20 years as a family. But most importantly, it’s about coming together as one with other leaders from the real estate industry to give back and make a difference in the lives of those that are less fortunate. And if we make a difference in our own lives at the same time, we couldn’t think of a better gift for our anniversary,” says Andrew.
Andrew and Belinda have set themselves a goal to raise $10,000 for Digital Live Ride, and with 100% of donations going straight to the children and their communities, their fundraising will really make a difference.
“Access to new and exciting opportunities for the children is just as important as a loving home and a belly full of healthy food. These donations will help provide a high standard of care, a chance at a better education and a future that these children would never have been able to envisage,” says Belinda. “So, with this in mind, please help us raise our goal of $10,000 and together Andrew and I promise to give every one of those 500km our all!”
If you would like to support Andrew and Belinda on their journey, you can do so via their fundraising page.