As more than 250 beaten-up cars begin the 5000km trip from Perth to Sydney for the Shitbox Rally, three of our brave staff members have found themselves along for the ride.
This marks not only the tenth year for the Shitbox Rally, but the first time Cancer Council NSW has entered the event, where teams of two attempt to traverse the rugged Australian bush in elaborately decorated ‘shitboxes’ worth less than $1,000.
Joining the rally this year are our CEO, Jeff Mitchell, alongside his brother as team Mitch², and researchers David Smith and Eleonora Felleto, who make up team Loo Scrubbers.
This mad journey across the heart of Australia was founded by James Freeman after both of his parents died from cancer within a year of each other.
Teams this year have already smashed the $2 million funding goal, bringing the total amount Shitbox Rallies have donated to Cancer Council to a whopping $18,767,638.
“James and the Box Rallies team have made a huge contribution to funding cancer research. I’m very excited to be doing the rally this year and joining the thousands of ‘rallyers’ that have not only raised funds but have become supporters of Cancer Council and the lifesaving work that we do,” Jeff said.
Although overflowing with enthusiasm (pun intended), Team Loo Scrubbers were slightly apprehensive about their car ‘Rage Against the Latrine’s’ chances of making it to Sydney.
“The reality is, we’re in a shitbox! It could break at any time. The apprehension that we might not make it back in the same car we started in is both nerve wracking and exciting too,” Eleonora said.
“We have a Toyota Starlet – a little hatchback. It’s a rally veteran and has already done the rally once. The previous owners loved it enough to buy it back in the auction at the end.
“The other rally participants have been so unbelievably helpful, sharing details and what we will need. The people who do Shitbox are so helpful, and in a community together. They’re all very excited to be able to help other people with their cars.”
For Eleonora, who is working on prevention and early detection of colorectal cancer, the opportunity to spend time with donors while seeing Australia was a real draw-card.
“It’s interesting to see what kind of spirit they take into it and how they feel connected to the organisation. As well as that, it just looked like fun! It’s an amazing route and such an opportunity to drive across Australia,” she said.
Having worked with us for six years, Eleonora says the connection to the community and her research is what she truly values.
“Here, we have an opportunity to interact with the community and see what kind of difference our work can make. Once, I was stopped in a pub toilet by a woman who told me how Cancer Council had supported her dad. She hugged me and said thank you. It’s things like that that make you realise what you’re a part of,” she said.
David, who is a Senior Research Fellow and heads up the prostate cancer team, has been working with us for 24 years and is passionate about improving the lives of men with prostate cancer.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the unique Australian outback landscape and driving through it. I’m also looking forward to the camaraderie with like-minded people who are taking part in the rally for the right reasons and are going to have fun doing it,” David said.
“It will be really nice to drive into Sydney victorious, having made it – if it all works well! The car is nagging at me a little bit – but I’m sure Eleonora has it under control.”