DUNGAS RETURN: Dusty homecoming for first-time team
TRACEY and Kaylene Messer know only too well the personal struggles of raising families in difficult situations.
Decked out in their best shades of green, the pair were two of 196 drivers who made the four-day journey from the coast to country as part of the Dunga Derby.
Their costumes and vehicle, Froggin' It, were chosen in memory of Tracey's eight-year-old son Tom, who died of leukaemia.
"Tree frogs were his favourite animal and our vehicle was eighth in the derby: his age,” Tracey said.
Kaylene has also had first-hand experience raising a child with a disability, with her 14-year-old being diagnosed with a neurological condition.
Both chose to get involved with the event to help give back to the local community.
The derby, which is the main fundraiser for local charity Rally for a Cause, raises funds for families and individuals who have life-threatening medical conditions or have been affected by circumstances beyond their control.
This year, the drivers travelled hundreds of kilometres across the country, on a four-day journey from Thursday to yesterday, stopping in Boondoomba, Dulacca and Nanango before arriving back in Hervey Bay.
Event director Dave Darmody said the charity had collectively raised $247,000, adding up to $1 million in the five years it had been running.
"What we like to say sometimes is 'We can take a problem away',” Mr Darmody said.
"So if there's a family facing awful medical treatments and bills, maybe we can help them out by helping to pay their rates or something else.
"We've helped over 90 Fraser Coast families in the last four years, we've got three or four more with applications to look at right now.”
Mr Darmody said people could see the criteria online and could nominate a family who they thought needed help.
"This is all due to our Dunga family. When we go bush, it's not little clusters or groups, it's just one big happy family.
"No one else who does car events like this does it based out of a town... we live with each other, this is our four days out bush together.”