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Gruelling Challenge Awaits for Fearless Teens


Upper Coomera State College students are retracing the steps of the diggers, gearing up to compete in the challenge of a lifetime across the Gold Coast Hinterland. Trekking either 48km or 96km across fire trails, creeks and vast bushland won’t quite be a walk in the park, but after months of training the students are ready.

Six teams consisting of 24 students and 6 staff will embark on the Kokoda Challenge on July 15 and 16, designed to honour the bravery and mateship of the Anzacs during World War II.  Training is not easy, with students hitting the trails each weekend to get the distance on their legs, whilst also balancing their school and work commitments.

One team setting their sights high are the UCSC Underdogs, consisting of year 9 students Thomas Vayro; Kacey-Elsdon Bell, Lachlan Solitua and Owen Pithers, led by their team leader Gayle Stewart, already having raised their fundraising amount.

Thomas Vayro has a close connection to the cause, with his grandfather fighting in World War II all those years ago.

“After hearing war stories from my grandfather, I have always wanted to give this a go. This is the least we can do to begin to understand the extreme conditions the diggers faced back then.

“Basically we signed up for the trek because we wanted to challenge ourselves. We are all very active, playing sport and running so we felt this was a natural progression.

“It hasn’t been easy, walking through blisters and muscle pains, but whenever times get tough, I think of the sacrifices made by my family to defend our country, and I am determined to fight through, “ Thomas said.

Ms Stewart said she has been so impressed with the dedication of the students, with her team committing to each training session with an infectious level of enthusiasm. 

“It has been so powerful witnessing students discovering their personal limits for the first time, and learning what their minds and bodies are truly capable of when they work as a team.

“This is a true testament to the culture and sense of mateship that exists at UCSC,” Ms Stewart said.

Kokoda has ingrained itself as a tradition at UCSC, with some of our teachers tackling the challenge year after year.