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HomeLifestyleThe rally, the chickens and the lotto: a cancer fundraising secret formula

The rally, the chickens and the lotto: a cancer fundraising secret formula

It’s a common superstition that bird droppings bring good luck and two Northern Beaches locals have set out to prove it with their chook poo lotto, all in the name of cancer research funding.

Meg Hall and Michelle Desmarchelier make up the Fuelled by Gin team in the Shitbox Rally, a fundraising event where contributors drive across the country in barely road-worthy cars; cars must be worth less than $1,500 but drive across our most formidable roads. 

To drive cars worth just $1,500 across Australia via some of its most formidable roads, all in the name of charity.

“We’ve been rallying now raising funds for cancer research for six years or something like that,” Meg said.

“People kind of were getting sick of us because we’re always rattling the tin and asking for money… so I thought, well, we had to come up with a different way to raise money.”

The solution? A chicken poo raffle. The aim? Bet on a number and hope it gets pooed on to win the cash prize.

“The tickets were sold in two seconds flat.

“People who wanted to buy a ticket could buy it from anywhere in the world because it was online. We sold tickets in India and Iceland and France and all over the place.”

“And that raised $2,156 Exactly,” Michelle added. 

“The winner was supposed to collect $1,000 from that, but they donated it back to us.”

For their fourth time, the best friends of 30 years dared to drive across the country alongside 500 contestants with the like-minded intention of funding the battle against cancer.

This year was an eight-day endeavour from Sydney to Adelaide to Perth.

“We’ve both lost parents, grandparents to cancer,” Michelle recalled.

“I saw the Shitbox Rally back in 2015… I said to Meg immediately we have to do this because Megan just lost her dad to brain cancer. It’s very raw, and we wanted to do something to give back… and it’s good fun.”

Meg and Michelle showcase their Shitbox Rally costumes.

The event, in partnership with Cancer Council, inspires banged-up cars, bodacious costumes and bold personalities which was the embodiment of what the pair saw in the loved ones they lost.

“My father had only just passed away and it’s gut-wrenching, and it’s heartbreaking,” Meg said.

“It [Shitbox Rally] had my dad written all over it. It had her mother-in-law written all over it in terms of being funny, strong, courageous, and outgoing.

“We put our names down on the list. Then we kind of forgot about it. Three years later, they accepted us and we’re like, Oh, my God. Oh my God, what do we do now?”

The dynamic duo went on to raise close to $95,000 over six years, but their fundraising efforts were pushed into overdrive this year raising over $40,000, putting them in the top three contributors of the event.

“Meg came up with this crazy idea before the chook poo raffles, she said, how about we tether ourselves to the car for 24 hours? And I’m like, yes, that’s a great idea,” Michelle said.

Meg and Michelle sent out a call to their family and friends and did a 24-hour campout, unable to leave their car on a friend’s farm in Mudgee.

Meg and Michelle’s car camp out.

They raised around three and half thousand dollars which once again, challenged the pair to keep raising the bar.

“We just kept getting supported…  so I decided to contact supercars and see if they would let us do a lap. And they did, they opened up the racetrack just for us. And we did our own very exciting ceremonial lap,” Meg said.

“The 13-minute minute lap,” Michelle added.

“Yes, it was very slow,” Meg laughed.

Fuelled by Gins Bathurst ‘hot lap’.

The subject of cars is a touchy one from Michelle’s perspective.

The gearhead is constantly thrusting herself into a relationship between a girl and a ‘shitbox’, a love historically doomed to fail.

“I fell in love with the cars unfortunately, the first car we had was a Ford Falcon Waggon a VA Waggon, his name was Gordon.

“He dropped his ignition barrel and the steering wheel fell off. So he went to auction with vice grips holding everything together. So we had to leave him behind in Darwin.”

This pattern followed suit up to this year’s rally where the pairs Toyota Crown – named Julius – left Meg’s house strapped to a tow truck, leaving them five weeks to find a replacement.

“We ended up with a Nissan Tilda, but we sold it to another team and it’s now in Adelaide… I didn’t fall in love with this one.”

“I wouldn’t let her, it would be too traumatic!” Meg interjected. 

The Fuelled by Gin’s Nissan Tiida.

The Shitbox Rally is the manifestation of the old Ralph Waldo Emerson quote “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”.

The result of what happens when a group of individuals innovatively work towards the common good and keep coming back to do so.

“Our catchphrase this year was ‘don’t waste a day’ just because every day is precious,” Michelle said.

“I think it changes all of us for the better,” Meg agreed.

“We were down gasping at the Great Australian Bight and how beautiful it was dressed in these huge horse outfits. I can’t wait to go back one day to look at the Australian Bite and just say look, the last time I was here, I was a horse.

“It’s like travelling with a community of like-minded crazy, hilarious caring people. 500 of us.”

This year was supposed to be the best friends swan song, but even before the fundraising has officially finished it looks to be an empty promise as the two believe there is still work to be done.

“We said this would be our last one because we are on the verge of divorce from our husbands,” Meg laughed.

“Not quite!” Michelle chimed in.

“No, not quite, was just joking about that. But I don’t think we can ever say we’ll never go back because it is not only an important thing for us to do for the community, for those who have lost and for those who are still here today, But it’s a really, really great, fun experience. 

“One day when the kids grow up, perhaps we’ll get our husbands out and they’ll come with us and yeah, share what we love, it’s quite addictive,” Meg said.

If you love what the Fuelled For Gin team are doing, you can show your support for the cause by donating, you may even twist their rubber arm to go again next year.

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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