Warning: This story discusses youth suicide, which may cause discomfort but is also incredibly important to talk about honestly and openly.
This morning, at Datacom HQ in Auckland, a collection of like-minded people were gathered together to talk about saving lives.
This was not your usual collection of rescuers, although there were a few firemen and surf lifesavers amongst them.
The focus, however, was on those from the corporate world who were being strongly encouraged to enter a team into the 2018 Rescue Run by Newshub’s Mike McRoberts, Cisco director Dave Wilson, Youthline acting CEO Shae Ronald, and others.
The Rescue Run is a 3-5 hour race in which teams of 6, with at least two females, have to run a course with 5 simulated disaster zones, including 5 physical and 5 mental challenges, all with the aim to raise money for the volunteer and not-for-profit organisations that are dedicated to saving the lives of you, me and all New Zealanders.
It will be held in Woodhill Forest, with the kind permission of the local tangata whenua, Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara who were present at the breakfast to lend their not inconsiderable mana to the event.
It costs about $5000 for one of our emergency response groups to save a life, Matt Williams from Surf Lifesaving tells us, and this is the minimum goal for each team that enters the Rescue Race to raise.
“It would be great if we didn’t need your charity,” he says, “But we do.”
There are about 50 teams entered from NZ businesses so far, and the organisers are hoping to double that before the run happens in September.
This year, it is not just the amazing people who save us from physical harm that are benefitting from the fundraising - mental and emotional lifesavers Youthline, the youth suicide prevention organisation, is a new member of the groups being supported.
Datacom is helping them take their new Secondary Schools Youthline Division out into the education world, and there are already 10 teams of students who are signed up to take part - shout-out to Onehunga High School for being the first to get amongst it.
Cisco’s Dave Wilson was perhaps the most affecting speaker of the day, almost being moved to tears as he was outlining the results of the UNICEF report that named New Zealand as the leader in the developed world for rates of youth suicide.
He was emphatic in his urging everyone in the room to get involved in the Rescue Race and I don’t think I am putting words in his mouth when I say he would tell you to get five friends and get involved as well.
He even offers a valuable bit of advice for anyone who is up to the challenge - “get fit.”
In fact, he offers this particular piece of advice nine times. I counted.
In a powerful, fact-driven speech, Shae Ronald tells us it costs $800,000 a year to run Youthline's 24/7 Helpline, even on the shoestring budget they keep, only $89,000 of which comes from the Government.
If you still aren’t sure, or just want to know more, get in touch with them today to arrange a workplace visit or just have a chat about all of the things I didn’t have space to write.
Now, if you want to save a life, visit rescuerun.org.nz and register today.