Thousands of Australians are preparing to embark on the Gotcha4Life 24 Hour Row for mental fitness by keeping their rowing machines moving for 24 hours at surf clubs, gyms and schools.

The annual event, now in its fifth year, has this year attracted more than 60 locations Australia-wide to take part and will see locals, families, lifesavers, heroes, celebrities and politicians getting involved. It’s an event of scale and impact for everyone who takes part.

Kicking off at 12pm AEST on *World Suicide Prevention Day, participants take turns for the entire 24-hour period to keep their team’s rowing machine running non-stop to raise funds for lifesaving mental fitness programs which support their communities.

The 24 Hour Row raises funds for mental fitness foundation Gotcha4Life. With a vision of zero-suicides, Gotcha4Life delivers empowering and educational mental fitness programs and workshops in communities.

The funds raised by teams in the 24 Hour Row will be turned around to provide each of the participating communities with programs catered to their needs and requirements.

Out of the 60 teams, 45 are Surf Life Saving clubs and for many, their community has been touched by suicide and they want to take action.

“Surf clubs are community-centred, they strive to help, protect and work together. They want to take action to help look after their people, especially in this post-pandemic time,” said event partner, Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce.

“A surf club’s role is not only to protect and save lives on the beach, it’s also to help build the mental fitness of their members and community and help save lives off the beach and that’s why we love this event.”

What makes the event so unique is that each of the locations is connected via Zoom and live streamed through Facebook, something that has united participants in the event over the last two years.

“Being able to watch all the teams rowing together across Australia is pretty special,” said Gotcha4Life Founder Gus Worland.

“We’re working together towards a common goal, we all want to end suicide and part of that is about helping people realise they don’t have to worry alone. No one is alone throughout the event, right through the night you can tune in and see everyone rowing their hearts out.”

Grant Wilkinson has been a member of Elouera SLSC since age five as a Nipper. Now a legend in the Surf Life Saving community, he is passionate about what the club gives to the community and 2022 will be the third year he has participated in the event.

The 49-year-old will be attempting to row 50km to coincide with his 50th birthday over the 24-hour period to help raise funds for his team.

“We’ve had a couple of close friends and members who have taken their lives and it really makes it hit home,” he said.

“Doing 50kms on the machine is nothing. It’s one day, 24 hours and it’s over. If it helps raise money for a good cause and puts programs in place, like what Gotcha4Life does, it’s worth it.

“And everyone can contribute in a small way, everyone has a role to play. Just check on your mates and have a deeper conversation with them, jump in and have a row, donate to help get these programs run. Do what you can and be part of it.”

Wilkinson is just one of hundreds of stories amongst participants who will inspire communities across the country to dig deep with their physical and financial contributions.

The event this year aims to raise $250,000.

The 24 Hour Row was started in 2017 by Mel and Nathan Wellings at Avalon Beach SLSC after a number of tragic suicides in the area. Initially it was just one club wanting to make a difference but neighbouring clubs who also saw the suffering and need to support their communities soon jumped onboard. The word spread and given the event provides an easy and effective way to engage with people, it has grown exponentially since.

“We love this event because it brings so many communities together and shows solidarity and passion for a suicide-free Australia,” said founder Mel Wellings.

“We can’t believe what started as one club trying to make a difference locally has evolved to involve thousands of people and to think about the people it’s helped and the lives we’ve saved is huge.”

*World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and to promote action through proven means that will reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts globally.

2022 LOCATIONS: 

NSW starting 12pm – Avalon Beach SLSC, Bermagui SLSC, Body Blitz, Clovelly SLSC, Coffs Harbour SLSC, Coogee SLSC, Crescent Head SLSC, Drummoyne Rowing Club, Elouera SLSC, Era SLSC, Freshwater SLSC, Kiama SLSC, Lifestyle Tradie, LiveFit, Long Reef SLSC, MacMasters SLSC, Maroubra SLSC, Mona Vale SLSC, Narrabeen Beach SLSC, Balgowlah Boys High, North Cronulla SLSC, North Curl Curl SLSC, North Wollongong SLSC, Ovolo, Palm Beach SLSC, Pambula SLSC, Port Kembla SLSC, Sawtell SLSC, South Curl Curl SLSC, South Maroubra SLSC, South West Rocks SLSC, Stockton SLSC, Tathra SLSC, Terrigal SLSC, Wamberal SLSC, Wanda SLSC, Woolgoolga SLSC

QLD starting 12pm – Mermaid Beach SLSC, BMD Northcliffe SLSC, Maroochydore SLSC, Mooloolaba SLSC

WA starting 9.30am – Coogee Beach SLSC, Secret Harbour SLSC

SA starting 11am – Glenelg SLSC, Moana SLSC, Seacliff SLSC

VIC starting 12pm – Mordialloc LSC, Port Melbourne S&LSC, Williamstown LSC

TAS starting 12pm – Clifton and Tasmanian Southern Clubs

INT starting 4am, 9th September – Marine SLSC South Africa

Saturday 3 September 2022