Amazon adventure

SHARON Blenman is fully aware of the challenges ahead of her as she prepares to kayak down the Amazon River next year for charity.

But the determined Armidilian says nothing will get in the way of her lifelong dream of helping children.

“When I put my mind to something I make sure I do it because of my pride. Right now nothing’s fazing me,” she says.

The 30-year old plans to kayak about 2700kms over a 10-week period to raise funds for World Vision.

Departing in early May, she will start the journey at Manaus in Brazil and paddle about 50kms a day along the river before reaching her final destination, Belem.

Sharon admits the physical and mental demands will be difficult to overcome, but she remains confident of completing the gruelling task.

“I’m taking it very seriously.

“When I get over there I don’t want to collapse in the first week because I haven’t been training, so that’s why I’m doing it now.

“Every day I go to Anytime Fitness, where I’m doing weights, cardio, the treadmill. My personal trainer makes me work very hard – she’s trying to get my upper body and my back stronger because they are the parts that are going to be working out the most.

“A couple of months before I go I’m also going to look into maybe a sports psychiatrist to train my mind so I don’t want to quit.”

The fundraising effort has been more than two years in the

making, with Sharon first deciding to undertake the initiative in May 2010.

Having been inspired to do “something big” while living in England, she approached Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay in early January and was encouraged to go ahead with her plans.

“The reason I got this idea was because I was living in England and there was a young woman who did sports relief over there. She did kayaking and she just inspired me to do something wonderful,” she says.

“I’ve always wanted to do something big and everyone knows about the Amazon, which I think is the most beautiful river in the world.”

Sharon has set a target of $1 million for the effort and hopes all funds raised will improve the living conditions for children in Sudan, East Africa.

“I am very passionate about children, so if I can help kids in any way, that makes me feel good,” she said.“I’m hoping that most of the money will go towards education, shelter, food and water. What amazes me is that here in the lucky countries, we can actually buy water in bottles, while these poor people have to drink from a puddle that’s so dirty they can actually die from it.”

Though she accepts it will be tough to reach her target, the aspiring child protection worker says it is definitely not unrealistic.

“People might think it is a very high amount but it’s over 10 weeks and every bit counts, so I do hope I can get to that $1 million goal,” Sharon says.

“I think it is realistic, that’s why I’m organising it now so people can hear my story. But even if it only ends up being $100,000, at least I’ve tried.”

Despite her optimism, Independent MP Richard Torbay told The Express it would take a “herculean effort” to make the initiative a success.

“She’s been to see me a couple of times to seek advice,” he said.

“I was really pleased with her energy and level of commitment, which is very important given the task in front of her. I would just like to wish her well.”

Sharon is currently sponsored by Anytime Fitness Armidale but she needs more sponsors on board to assist with the cost of airfares, accomodation and food for herself and a five-person support team.

She has already assigned two people as her camera crew, but also requires a doctor and two other members to complete the team.

Any potential sponsors or people interested in contacting Sharon can do so by emailing

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