Pollie Bait – Starring Jarrod Bleijie
The team at Stroud Homes Sunshine Coast have teamed up with Member for Kawana, Jarrod Bleijie, to raise over $25,000 for local charities.
When Dan Chapman found out Mr Bleijie hadn’t swam in the ocean for over 18 years due to a phobia of sharks he developed in his teens, he sent out a challenge to participate in a campaign to raise much needed funds.
Headlined as “Pollie Bait”, Mr Bleijie has reluctantly agreed to face his fears and dive with the sharks at Sea Life Sunshine Coast on 22 June 2017.
Mr Bleijie’s fear started after a traumatic episode in the Pumicestone Passage when he was a teenager.
“I had watched Jaws, obviously far too young, and was being towed on a tube behind my parents’ boat in the Passage,” Mr Bleijie said.
“I had come off the tube and was floating in the water when a dark shadow appeared underneath and around me – I absolutely panicked and was screaming in the water.
“In hindsight it was probably just seaweed, but that was enough to keep me out of the water for the next 18 years.”
The difficulty of not being able to swim with his kids at the beach during their childhood was one of the deciding factors for him to conquer his fears and go for a paddle with the ocean predator.
Dan Chapman kickstarted the campaign with a $5,000 donation, encouraging businesses and members of the community to donate in support of local charity organisations.
Mr Bleijie selected the recipients for the fundraising campaign, including STEPS Charity, Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge (SCARS) and 4 Paws Animal Rescue, all of which are non-profit organisations relying on volunteers and donations.
Penny Brischke from SCARS is looking forward to seeing the Kawana MP swim with sharks, as the money raised will allow the organisation to recommence the subsidised dog de-sexing program.
“It is wonderful to see local businesses and local politicians supporting local charities, like SCARS, to keep doing what they do to help the Sunny Coast community,” Ms Brischke said.
“We are particularly excited to see how much the community will ‘pay’ to see Jarrod dive with the sharks at Sea Life Sunshine Coast.”
4 Paws Animal Rescue founder, Julie Penlington, said her organisation relies entirely on donations, with any money raised going to help save defenceless animals rescued from cruel living conditions.
Based in Caloundra, STEPS Charity is a non-profit organisation creating a better future for people on the Sunshine Coast with a disability.
Charity Manager, Angela Miles, said STEPS provides a vital service to the community, but can’t deliver all their services and initiatives without the support of others.
“We’re always on the lookout for new opportunities to partner with organisations and we’re so thankful to Stroud Homes and Jarrod Bleijie who are raising money to help us support the people that need it the most,” Ms Miles said.
A Facebook Page has been created for Pollie Bait, providing information on the charity, the eventual dive day, and how you can make a donation to the fundraiser.
“100 percent of all funds raised will go directly to the charities with the ultimate goal of reaching $25,000,” Dan Chapman said.
Sea Life Sunshine Coast is also a sponsor of the fundraising event and looking forward to helping Mr Bleijie overcome his fears.
Gaynor Grimshaw of Sea Life Sunshine Coast said the Shark Dive Xtreme is a unique experience to come face to fin with a variety of sharks, rays and reef fish during a cage free shark dive.
The shark dive will take place on 22 June 2017 at Sea Life Sunshine Coast.