Family of fallen soldier to mark memory through charity
THE mother of fallen Gympie soldier Ashley Birt is about to walk the Kokoda Track in memory of her lost son.
Along the way Linda Birt will raise money for Soldier On, a charity that helps soldiers returning from the front line.
Linda will be joined on the trek by Ashley's brother Dale, also a member of the defence force, and a 30-strong group made up of other returned soldiers and family members of fallen soldiers.
Mrs Birt said she was embarking on the trek for Ashley.
"I needed a challenge and I thought it was something Ash would want us to do," Mrs Birt said.
"We are doing it for Ash."
Cpl Ashley Birt was one of three Australian soldiers shot dead by a rogue local soldier they were helping train in Afghanistan in late October 2011.
Dale was in Afghanistan at the time of his brother's death.
Mrs Birt said she was hoping to raise $20,000 for the charity Soldier On.
Currently more than $2800 has already been pledged on her fundraising site everydayhero.com.
"Soldier On is amazing," Mrs Birt said.
"When someone comes back from the frontline it's hard for others to understand what they have been through.
"Soldier On is a group they can talk to."
The charity supports Australian servicemen and women who have been wounded, physically or mentally, on contemporary operations.
It raises money to give the wounded the dignity they deserve and the chance to do whatever they choose.
Mrs Birt is currently running a multi prize draw raffle to help raise funds.
She has 53 prizes which include holidays, NRL grand final tickets, photo shoots and more.
Mrs Birt said she had 5000 tickets on sale for $2 each.
"If I sell them all I will be half way to my target," She said.
The draw will be held at the Gympie RSL on July 12 and tickets can be bought from businesses around Gympie including The Gympie Times.
Mrs Birt and Dale will start the trek on Thursday, July 18, and cover the torturous 96km over six days.
Mrs Birt has been training for the event walking 10km most week days and 20km on the weekend.
Next week she will travel to Brisbane to train with other families who are going on the trek. Before she heads to Brisbane she will attend the Ashley Birt Memorial hockey match at Ramsey Park on Saturday.
Anyone wishing to donate can go to https://give.everydayhero.com/au/linda-birt