In his 10 years volunteering for the Cancer Council Queensland, David Ross has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars by walking relays overnight in the rain, selling raffle tickets and organising countless dinners, trivia nights, movie nights, barbecues, cent auctions and wine drives. Then there was that time he swam with sharks.
“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” he says. “I did a snorkel swim with sharks at SEA LIFE Mooloolaba and raised $5000 just by jumping in there. I jumped into the shark tunnel and was in there for about 20 minutes. They were swimming right near me. It felt like forever.”
The big-hearted Maroochydore man was recognised recently by Cancer Council Queensland for 10 years of volunteering and raising money for the organisation, something he fell into and once he started, has never stopped.
“Back in 2009 a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join her team at the Nambour Relay for Life. I said ‘yes, why not?’. After the event she asked if I’d like to join the committee. Ten years later, I’m still here.
“At that stage I didn’t know anyone affected by cancer, but a year later I lost a friend to cancer and since then, I’ve lost a workmate and another friend. It means a lot to me to help raise funds to find a cure.
“I couldn’t believe it when they told me I’d been doing this for 10 years,” he says. “It doesn’t feel like 10 years.”
Mr Ross says he gets his philanthropic streak from his mother Celena Ross, who is well known on the Sunshine Coast as one of the founders of the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network.
“My mother used to work at the TAFE in Melbourne and she organised all the events,” he says.
“She dressed me up as a koala one day. I was always getting involved in things she was doing. I’d be in the lounge room hearing her getting people to sponsor events and organise different functions. Maybe that’s gone into my head.”
As the chairperson of Sunshine Coast Relay for Life, Mr Ross volunteers 10 to 15 hours of his time a week organising fundraisers and teams for the relay.
“I co-ordinate the committee, I go out and source sponsors, I make sure everyone’s doing their jobs. I also do the marketing and organise the launch. Initially I found it intimidating asking people for money, but now it just washes over me.
“I go in there, tell them who I am and what I’m doing and where the money is going. That’s the key thing – to know where the money is going.”
Mr Ross fits his volunteering around his regular job with Helping Hands Network, part of Junior Adventures Group, which offers outside school hours care. He was recently named employee of the year out of 2500 staff members across Australia.
In recognition of his service, the company is donating $1000 to the Cancer Council Queensland.
Mr Ross is gearing up for his next fundraising event, the Brick Event Expo at Kawana Community Centre on March 16 and 17, where he’ll be selling raffle tickets.
He’s also preparing for the Sunshine Coast Relay for Life and would like to invite individuals and businesses to register teams.
Relay for Life will be held at the Sunshine Coast Stadium on May 18. For more information visit relayforlife.org.au.