Lee Williams' Heartfelt Cape to Cape Challenge with zero2hero

Lee Williams' Heartfelt Cape to Cape Challenge with zero2hero

Embarking on a transformative 135km trek, Lee Williams, our legendary General Manager, joined forces with other remarkable CEOs in Western Australia to fundraise an astounding 278K. Their journey was not just a physical challenge but a heartfelt mission to raise vital funds for youth mental health.

In his own words, Lee shares his insights and experiences from the Cape to Cape CEO Trek. This adventure goes beyond endurance, delving into the profound impact on individuals who took part and the unwavering commitment of zero2hero towards tackling these difficult and prevalent issues in our society, including through initiatives such as Camp Hero.

zero2hero is dedicated to educating and empowering young heroes, fostering a new generation of mental health leaders, and working to prevent suicide in Western Australia.

In Lee's Words

zero2hero’s Cape to Cape trek is a week like no other and one that will stay with me forever.

The brief: 135kms over five days and raise as much money as possible for a wonderful cause. 

Suicide has touched many of our lives. It has had profound and long-lasting impacts on my family and work colleagues. The tragedy of suicide can devastate the families, friends and communities of those left behind, often leaving many unanswered questions.

zero2hero is an amazing organisation full of remarkable people. Headed by the truly inspirational Ashlee Harrison, the charity’s mission is to educate, engage and empower young people to support and maintain their own mental health.

I was privileged to trek alongside Ashlee and spend the week with many of the zero2hero team, including Amy, Kate and Brodie. Kelly and Joanne expertly guided us in both the literal and emotional sense of the word.

Also with us each step of the way was Marshall Grosse, zero2hero alumni and charity advocate. Here’s a guy who walks the walk and, with his firsthand experience of what the charity’s programmes can deliver for our youth, blew us all away with his maturity, passion and wit.

Our journey began on Sunday as each of the twenty-three trekkers assembled in Bunker Bay for a coach ride to our Augusta digs. Who would have thought this ninety-minute journey would take five days to replicate on foot?

Each of the next five days began with early starts and up to 30 km of trekking through the glorious southwest cape of our unique State. Over sand, rock, fire trail and forest, the Cape-to-Cape route is a feast for the senses and at times, bloody hard work. From the moving Welcome to Country in Augusta to the elation of reaching Friday’s pinnacle, I look back and recollect all of the journey’s natural highlights: untouched beaches, rugged cliffs, spring wildflower blooms, countless dolphins and whales, kangaroos, the largest emu in WA (unsubstantiated).

Our silent walk through the rich Boranup Forest remains a trek highlight. In the forest, I felt the most grounded. I was able to recall two recent trek learnings fully. 

1. Be where your feet are (thanks, JL)

2. “Komorebi”, a Japanese word meaning ‘sunlight leaking through trees’

The visual journey was only one level of the experience. Getting to know and learn from my fellow trekkers and support staff added an unexpected layer to my week. Each had a different story and was open to sharing their experiences and the journey that led them here. Taking five days out of our working lives can prove challenging. Leaving work (including the phone and emails) behind, for the most part, is even more difficult. Kudos to those whose phones remained in Bunker Bay. Without technology or the outside world and only our daily target to reach, we could walk alongside a new person during each stage. We shared amazing stories, joked, learned and ultimately encouraged each trekker throughout the day. There was even room for song, and thankfully, the acclaimed Joel Jackson’s voice carried mine through various Glen Campbell, Elvis, and Tom Jones ballads.  

Our nights consisted of recovery, the odd beer (or three), and sharing some incredible meals by the highly talented Matt and zero2hero’s generous volunteers. We heard real-life accounts of how the charity impacts adolescents and, powerfully, how our fundraising efforts would be utilised.

Each of the heartfelt stories shared between us moved the entire room. The last night felt like we had known each other for years and that we could take on the world! Thankfully, come the morning, we only needed to take on another 25 kilometres.

After an emotional last lunch where we each reflected on our incredible journey and achievements, it was on to the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. Being greeted by my family (Billy the dog included) was moving. Touching the lighthouse alongside a group of amazing humans was pure joy.

I feel honoured to have been granted the opportunity to join the initial zero2hero CEO Trek, and I thank both Ashlee and our PAV team for their support in making it happen. The trek collectively raised over $270K, a massive sum that will do amazing things. 

Feature in the West Australian

"Trekking for five days on Western Australia’s Cape to Cape track tested me physically, but it’s worth every ache if it means helping children who battle mental health issues". Read the West Australian piece below for Justin Langer's moving take on a physically testing but incredibly rewarding five days spent reflecting on youth mental health.

You can support zero2hero through direct donations, jumping on one of next year’s treks, or attending the upcoming Red Cape Ball on Saturday 4th of November. This consecutively sold-out event is celebrating its fifth year and will host 950 guests at Optus Stadium. Featuring world-class entertainment, award-winning catering, and the chance to play an essential role in mental health, the Red Cape Ball is an unforgettable night and a highlight on Perth’s social calendar.