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Pool industry leaders redouble Kokoda effort to help returned soldiers

February 7th, 2017
Cliff Cooke and Tony Sharpe are redoubling their Kokoda effort to help returned soldiers

Pool industry leaders, Hayward Pool Products Australia managing director Tony Sharpe and Cooke Industries managing director Cliff Cooke, will be completing the Kokoda Trek together to mark the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda Trail Campaign.

They will be completing the journey not once, but twice – immediately turning around and making the trek in reverse, completing the gruelling trek back-to-back from April 11 to April 24, 2017. Their effort to complete the 192km return journey will raise money for Australian ex-service men and women.

This will be a reprise of their trek in 2014 when Sharpe and Cooke completed the hike one way, stating at the time that they had come to understand that only when you complete the trek do you gain a glimmer of an understanding of what the World War II soldiers endured defending Australia and our way of life.

Helping returned soldiers

Their decision to make the trek came after hearing reports of how modern Australian soldiers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and physical injuries, and they wished to raise awareness and funds to support them.

The opportunity came up to complete the trek again this year, but in order to increase the challenge and raise awareness they are joining a small number of other Australians to complete the trek one way from Owers' Corner (near Port Moresby) to Kokoda, then immediately turn around and trek from Kokoda back to Owers' Corner.

At the end of the 13-day return trek, Sharper and Cooke will attend the Anzac Day service at the Australian war cemetery in Port Moresby where more than 3500 Australians are buried.

The guides for the trip are descendants of the original Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, with group leaders from ProSport Health and Fitness and No Roads Adventures.

Hayward is aiming to raise between $10,000 and $20,000 for the charity Soldier On to help men and women physically and psychologically affected by their service.

All funds raised will go directly to Soldier On, there are two ways to contribute:

You can help by purchasing a Navigator V-Flex from Hayward Pool Products Australia during February-April, where Hayward will automatically make a donation on your behalf; or you can make a private donation to Soldier On by following the link: http://bit.ly/2jX0buj

Sharpe and Cooke would like to thank those who have helped preparing them for the trek: ProSport Health and Fitness and Kimekai MMA.

By Chris Maher
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