Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai—Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services) (18:54): Last month I joined more than 600 people to support our community's annual Special Olympics Ku-ring-gai Chase Fun Run and Barry Easy Walk. The Ku-ring-gai Chase Fun Run is the major fundraising event for the Special Olympics Australia Sydney Upper North Shore Club. The Special Olympics is part of a global inclusion movement which supports athletes of all ages to participate in sport. In Australia there are over 7,000 participants and 47 clubs striving to make a positive impact on the quality of life of adults and children with an intellectual disability. The Special Olympics plays an enormous role in opening the door for members in the community who feel isolated. It was a pleasure to be able to participate in the event, not only as the local member but as the newly appointed Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services.
The Ku-ring-gai Chase Fun Run is such a rewarding event for everyone involved and it was great to see a strong crowd of locals taking part in either the five‑kilometre Barry Easy Walk or the 10‑kilometre fun run through the leafy streets of Wahroonga. The highlight of the event for me was the young boys from Knox Grammar School running or walking with the Special Olympics athletes as their buddies. Almost 400 students took part this year including boarders and day boys. I thank the school community for always rallying behind the spirit of this event year after year. The event was launched by its official ambassador and longstanding supporter Vic Lorusso. The team from Vision Personal Training led the warm-up session. I had the opportunity to address the crowd before the event commenced, along with my Federal colleague and friend the Hon. Paul Fletcher, member for Bradfield and Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts. At the sound of the air horn, the runners were off. It was fantastic to see the excitement and smiling faces of all of the athletes.
Once the runners were out of sight, it was time for walkers, like me, to line up at the start sign. Nothing beats the feeling of coming across the finish line and I am proud to say I beat my age, walking five kilometres in 56 minutes and five seconds. A special mention to our Special Olympics athletes who placed in the 10‑kilometre run and the five‑kilometre walk. I congratulate Nathan Whitty who placed first in the 10-kilometre run with a time of 58 minutes and 29 seconds, and Ross Whyte who placed second at one hour and 13 minutes. The five-kilometre walk was a popular choice amongst the athletes. In the female category I congratulate Jemima Heberden, Melanie Jacka, Nayln Sirvivatnanon, Ashlie Becker, Bridget Maher, Brigitte Cook, Kate Simmons, Frances Scott and Jonathan Reiss. In the male category I congratulate Tim Rodgers, Christian Ridey, Michael Lee, Ramesh Maharjan, Mark Crighton, Alistair Hyman, Jarvis Cant, Andrew Rainsford, Declan Goh, Bowman Yu, Matthew Gow, Ross Bennett, Andreas Demetriou and Benjamin Hayman.
For those who placed first, second and third, I had the honour of presenting the medals and certificates. Each athlete beamed with joy as they showed off their medals, which were engraved with the Special Olympics motto, "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." On reflection, those words have a profound message which can be applied to anyone and in all aspects of life. All any of us can hope for is a chance to be brave and to pursue a dream. Each athlete embodies this motto. When I asked Nathan, who came first in the 10‑kilometre run, what his favourite part of Special Olympics was, he replied, "To have the opportunity to play sport."
We all know how tough it was for our local charities last year, especially as they were unable to host their annual events. I congratulate the organisers on ensuring the Ku-ring-gai Chase Fun Run went ahead this year. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, including local schools, businesses and community organisations, over $11,500 was raised. I recognise this year's major sponsors, including Unisson Disability, Like Family, Differently Abled People Association Inc., Knox Grammar School and Ku-ring-gai Fitness and Aquatic Centre, to name a few. I thank all the volunteers, as without their hard work none of this would be possible. The Ku-ring‑gai Chase Fun Run and Barry Easy Walk presents a fantastic opportunity for our community to unite behind and raise money for a truly worthwhile cause. I have no doubt that the Ku-ring-gai community will unite again to support this great fundraising event next year.