Rick's helping Nepalese kids one step at a time
Vision by Halcyon home owner Rick Parkes is about to embark on an epic journey that will combine two of his great passions – trekking and the Nepalese people.
Aged 74, the experienced trail walker, mountain climber and seasoned world traveller is preparing to walk 817km along the northern coast of Spain to raise money for disadvantaged kids in rural Nepal.
To prepare for the 50-day journey, Rick has been pulling on a 10kg backpack and hitting the treadmill in Vision’s gym each day while also doing lots of stretching and completing a decent bushwalk each week.
In Spain, he will walk one of the world-famous Camino pilgrimage trails that ultimately lead to the north-western city of Santiago de Compostela, thought to be home to the burial site of Biblical Apostle Saint James.
Rick aims to raise at least $5,000 for the Nepal Australia Friendship Association (NAFA) Queensland, which funds health, education and infrastructure in remote and regional Nepal.
His fundraising effort will help pay for the education and health of children in the remote region of Tawal where schools and other key infrastructure were destroyed in the 2015 earthquake.
“It’s great to make a difference and put something back into society as you get older,” he said.
“You do a lot of work for yourself and then in your 70s you can put something back that means something.”
Rick was moved to make the fundraising pilgrimage after a trip to Nepal last year when he witnessed the determination of villagers to rebuild their lives despite their remote location.
“They are a three-hour uphill walk away from the nearest road, and all materials have to be carried in,” he said.
“When pouring a concrete slab for the classrooms, everything was done by hand and it took the villagers 13 hours to do it.
“Everything is so hard for them, they want their kids to be educated and to have a future.”
Rick is no stranger to the Camino experience or fundraising, having walked the popular 800km Camino Frances route with wife Sue in 2010 after recovering from prostate cancer.
“I saw it as a reward after my recovery and it gave me a challenge to walk that far and realise that I’d got through it,” he said.
He returned to Spain in 2013 to complete the 1000km Via de la Plata route, which starts in the southern city of Cadiz. During those walks he raised a total of $20,000 for the Cancer Council.
So, this time, with just a sleeping bag, his water supply and a change of clothes on his back, Rick will set out from Irun, just south of the French border and walk about 25km each day until he reaches Santiago.
He hopes to complete the journey by late May.