Jimmy Morrison is a child sexual abuse survivor. Ben Darcy is his best mate. Together they may just be the greatest advertisement for one of Australia’s most gruelling charity events.
“Jimmy rang me last year and hit me up to sponsor him,” Ben says of the Bravehearts 777, which will see the pair tackle seven marathons in seven states in seven days, culminating on July 2 at Australia’s largest marathon on the Gold Coast.
“I initially thought I’d throw him a few bucks but then thought I could pull my finger out and do something more than simply donate some money and forget about it.”
From humble beginnings, the 777 has fast established itself as the ultimate torture test for ordinary folk wanting to achieve the extraordinary and raise awareness and funds for a great cause along the way. About 30 runners, including Gold Coast teacher Carla McKinley, are about to wing their way to Perth for Monday’s first stop, each having raised more than $10,000 for Arundel-based sexual abuse charity Bravehearts. Among them will be Jimmy and Ben, a couple of lads who formed a bond 15 years ago that has not only survived but thrived in recent years.
“I only found out in late 2015 what happened to Jimmy as a boy,” Burleigh father-of-two Ben explains.
“I was shocked because he’s always been a confident fella. He wasn’t someone who had shown any signs or effects of that sort of thing. He’s an extroverted bloke but it just showed me you never know who has been through this sort of stuff. You have no idea.
“This event’s been a big motivator for me as a parent to get more educated so I can do my best to protect my kids.”
As well as an extrovert, Jimmy is proof personified of what a life transformed can look like. Having spent much of his army career as a hard-drinking man’s man, he has been off the grog for almost three years and talks about running 100km a week like it’s no big deal. He also pens a very personal blog — Sober Strides — where he writes eloquently about running, life and making peace with his past.
Needless to say, the fact his best mate has put up his hand to be by his side for the 295.4km of footsteps that await momentarily leaves him speechless.
“I think friendship has lost a lot of its meaning these days and what Ben’s doing is almost done of out of love,” Jimmy says.
“I know it’s hard for Australian blokes to say they love their mates but that’s what it is. To say his presence adds another layer to what the 777 means to me is an understatement.”
By Dwayne Grant, Gold Coast Bulletin