How The Kokoda Trek Inspired a CEO to Walk For Others

At CUFA we call it philanthropical leadership. Almost every week we are inspired by the vision and dedication of our supporters who come from all walks of life, and their creative fundraising which takes so many different forms. Each newsletter we’ll be profiling these leaders. Please share these stories and send us your nominations so we can spread the word!

This month we feature: David Jay, CEO of Australian Settlements Limited (ASL).

It’s been called a compelling personal pilgrimage, but however we connect to the spirit of Kokoda, there’s no doubt that it strikes a deep chord within the hearts and minds of Australians everywhere.

For ASL CEO and CUFA supporter David Jay, walking the Kokoda Trail had long been on his bucket list. And the minute he announced he was dedicating his trek to raise money for charity, he got an immediate ‘hands up’ from seven other colleagues who wanted to take up the challenge too.

David’s September campaign, aptly titled Walk With Me, aims to raise $150,000. And it could go much higher: “We have spaces for 35 walkers altogether, and ASL will donate an extra $5,000 for every person who joins the trek,” said the committed fundraiser, who modestly brushes aside the suggestion that he is a philanthropical leader. “It gives people the chance to do something good for themselves, and for others. I just think it’s the right thing to do.”

The 96km trek will take eight days, immersing the walkers in the unique jungle environment of the Owen Stanley Ranges and giving them a first-hand experience of village community life. Beginning at Owers Corner, near Port Moresby, the single-foot track ends at the village of Kokoda in Oro Province, and includes fascinating and deeply moving battlefield briefings along the way.

“I’ve spoken to several people who have done the walk,” said David, “ and they all used the same words to describe it: life changing.”

Led by the Hon Charlie Lynn OL, a Vietnam veteran who has guided trekkers in the area for over 25 years, it’s not only about the fundraising and the personal challenge, but also the unique relationship the Kokoda Trail has forged between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Australian interest in the trail is now an important lifeline for those who live there. The two main communities – the Orokaiva in the north and the Koiari people to the south – eked out a subsistence living until tourism became a vital part of their income. Now the Kokoda walkers help support a range of community development programs, including health, education and village agriculture, which provides fresh produce to schools.

In the true philosophy of CUFA, it’s enabling local communities to determine their own futures and invest in themselves – the premise which first attracted David Jay to become a CUFA supporter. His philosophy is simple: “We are in a far better position than a lot of people. The mutual space is really about helping members: we all live in one world, and you know deep inside that you have to do this.”

David’s annual fundraising campaigns, which include a hugely successful Golf Day, are now an integral part of ASL’s strategic plan. “We establish fundraising goals each year, and each year it seems to get bigger,’ he explained.

All money raised goes directly to support four key charities and foundations, including CUFA.

September’s Walk With Me campaign is set to be David’s biggest fundraising effort yet. From starting six years ago by raising $15,000 at the CEO’s Sleepout, his efforts reached $75,000 last year, and this year he aims to top $150,000. “It probably also has a lot to do with the fact that I’m competitive,” laughs David. “It’s about seeing how much more we can achieve.”

“An unforgettable historical, cultural and environmental experience” – and you’re invited!

If you would like to join David on the Kokoda Trail this September, it’s time to step on it now. At time of going to press, he already had pledges from 20 would-be trekkers. For more information email Casey Mauger [email protected] or contact her
on 02 8912 0600.

* Image source.


David Jay, CEO, ASL


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