By Sophia Hatzis | Digital Content Contributor
When Ruth Budge first signed up for Coastrek, she was nervous about one thing in particular: fundraising. She was worried she lacked the tech-savvy skills of her teammates and wouldn’t reach her share of the $2000 fundraising target.
But Ruth need not have feared. Ruth decided to use her sewing and knitting skills to her advantage and make gaiters for trekkers to bring in donations. Now, she is a celebrity among our Coastrekkers and is having to enlist the help of volunteers to keep up with the growing number of orders. Her Glorious Gaiters are going gangbusters, and she’s now branched out, making toasty headbands for her fellow walkers.
Ruth has experienced significant health setbacks and challenges, but she’s still going strong and is training hard for this year’s Adelaide Coastrek. A fundraising queen, Ruth shares some of her top tips.
What’s your favourite part about Coastrek?
I love the adventure of planning something big, forming the team, and training. The challenge of fundraising $2000 a team was very anxiety provoking for me as I did not have the IT skills that my other teammates had and I didn't want to let them down. I loved and felt proud of my Glorious Gaiters 'business' that I’ve developed, and my Toastie Coasties headbands for hikers. They've proved to be a great fundraiser and talking point in all the Coastreks I’ve been involved in.
I have loved Event Day so much. There is such an upsurgeance of good will, joy, and working for something greater than ourselves I will never forget. The encouragement, the laughter, and the tears through the pain made my spirit soar.
The thing I loved most - and that’s enriched my life in this difficult time of health challenges - was the honest and real conversations that emerged through the experience. Raising money for Beyond Blue seemed to trigger these moments, whether it was while training with my team, or selling raffle tickets and collecting donations for the prizes. Most people had a story.
How did the idea of making gaiters for other people come about?
I decided to use my anxiety about raising the $500 for Beyond Blue to motivate me to find something that I could do, rather than be intimidated by my perceived ineptness and lack of experience raising money for charity and the absolute dislike of asking people for donations.
I realised that a few of my talents might do the trick. I can knit and I can sew. We then got the requirements list for Coastrek and gaiters were compulsory. I, like many other novice hikers, didn't know what gaiters even were! So the idea gradually formed and then snowballed so much that I had to ask for some volunteers to come round for a sewing bee to help me fill orders. The anxiety dissipated as the thousands of dollars rolled in. Some of my happiest memories have been the joy of seeing my gaiters not only at Coastrek, but various locations around the world where trekkers have sent me photographs.
What do you love most about being a Wild Woman?
My life was changed in such a positive way when I committed to undertaking Adelaide Coastrek in 2018 and I met my Wild Women On Top family. So much joy, fun, friendship, and laughter have filled my days since then.
It’s the hope I feel in the Wild Women I’ve met and read about that I love the most. I was sidelined unexpectedly by heart surgery just before Adelaide Coastrek, which was so disappointing. The hope that I might complete the Sydney Coastrek in 2019 helped me cope with the blow and change my focus. During my recovery I might have physically been on the couch, but my mind was travelling the world vicariously through all the photos and stories of adventures far and wide.
The hope that I could actually trek 30km and raise $500 for Beyond Blue was hard to hang on to, but our amazing Trek Training coach Millie Walker was so patient and confident that I would be able to do it, I relaxed and went to places I never dreamed I would go. Thanks to all the training I still managed to walk 20 kms of the walk two weeks after having my defibrillator replaced.
For Sydney Coastrek, my other team members were training in New South Wales. Di Walker generously took me on with her merry band of trekkers and her experience kept me safe within my heart limitations. I am truly grateful for their generosity.
For Adelaide Coastrek 2019, we’ve been training and fundraising. I had surgery on my wrist and forearm and was sidelined once again. But the hope is there’s time and I hit the trails again for the first time this weekend. This Wild Woman is learning to live in hope while s**t happens.
Do you have any fundraising tips?
Be creative with your fundraising ideas and utilise the strengths and abilities of each member of your team. We had one person in charge of the raffle, one in charge of the movie afternoon, and another organised the team uniform. I think there are lots of people like me who abhor asking people for donations so making something that lots of people need or enjoy can ease that burden.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give new Coastrekkers?
My experience has taught me that it’s the journey and Event Day that makes the experience of Coastrek. For a while, I found it hard to accept that my first Coastrek journey in Adelaide finished with me having to withdraw from my team. But I still had been very much a part of my team throughout the year and along our journey to fitness and fundraising.
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