Dr Tom Solano set to take on the Youngcare Simpson Desert Challenge

Many people have run a marathon in the name of charity, or perhaps bathed in a bath of beans for an hour to raise funds for a good cause and build awareness of certain issues. Others push themselves that little bit further to spread the word, and one of these unique people is Dr Tom Solano, of the Ochre Medical Centre Noosa.

Dr Solano has signed up for the Simpson Desert Challenge from 28th April to 8th May, a 250-kilometre walk to the geographical centre of this inhospitable area. He’ll be joined by 18 other trekkers as they slog their way through eight days of relentless sand dunes, beating sun, creepy-crawlies and a whole host of other challenges – so just why has he decided to put himself through such an ordeal?

A walk on the wild side
Dr Solano and his intrepid team will be marching across the Simpson Desert in order to raise funds and awareness for Youngcare’s cause. What else can Dr Solano tell us about this organisation?

“This morning, there were over 7,000 young people that woke up in an aged care facility in Australia, with limited resources and care available. Youngcare is an organisation which provides age-appropriate housing and other services. They do an amazing job of keeping young people out of aged care homes, which for those with high care needs, is usually where they end up,” he said.

“Youngcare are looking to build more relevant housing options and strengthening their connections in the community, which is why I am choosing to support them – to raise funds and awareness for the cause. That transition from being in an aged care facility to a more appropriate accommodation option is just a big step in the right direction in terms of mindset, actual options, and having that choice of freedom.”

The funds that Dr Solano raises, then, will be going towards helping Youngcare, and the good work that they do.

“I’m very much a big supporter of Youngcare’s cause in terms of providing other alternatives and freedom to people with high care needs, especially those who are struggling with living in a nursing home. Youngcare are looking to build more relevant housing options and strengthening their connections in the community.”

The challenge awaits
There can be no question that the Simpson Desert Challenge is going to be one of the toughest physical and mental challenges that Dr Solano has ever faced – and this is a man that has hiked the Kokoda trek in Papua New Guinea no less than three times. So what difficulties does the good doctor expect to face out in the wilderness?

“Usually, by day two or day three of these long distance hikes is when the mental game really takes hold. Without resting in comfortable beds, or the basic amenities of being back home, and knowing there is no let-up for eight days straight, while trekking lots of kilometres each day, it just adds up to pure exhaustion,” he described.

Is there anything out there that Dr Solano is not looking forward to facing, out there in the Australian desert? It might surprise you…

“One potential time when I’m questioning why I’m there will be the presence of a mouse plague, which in years past has apparently been something that has challenged previous trekkers. This plague can be so severe that trekkers were having mice climb over the top of them whilst they slept, it was so dense with them.”

Dr Solano says that when it gets to a point that any creatures crawling over him at night will actually make him wonder what he is doing out there, but we are sure that he will persevere…

A worthy undertaking
Even though the thought of furry rodents climbing all over him may fill Dr Solano with trepidation, on top of the sheer physical and mental challenge of the Simpson Desert Trek, he’s humble in his assessment of the task facing him overall:

“It is going to be hard, no doubt about that, but I don’t think that it can compare to the everyday life of some of these young people (the 7,000 young Aussies with high care needs across the country). I expect the toughest part will be getting the team through the desert over the distance – all 18 of them, plus the support crew,” he said.

“There’s going to be injuries, there’s going to be sore knees and ankles. Additionally, as I am the team doctor, not only do I have to make sure that I am okay, I have to look after the entire team, too!”

Ochre Health are sponsoring Dr Solano for his tough challenge, and you can donate to his cause right here. Additionally, a documentary of his exploits is to be filmed, so you’ll be able to really see what he and his team are up against – it’s sure to be an intriguing watch!

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