Heli mud challenge coming to Matakana

Left to right, helicopter emergency doctor Louise Park, para-climber Rachel Maia and intensive care paramedic Rob Gemmell will compete as a team in the Westpac Chopper Challenge.

The Auckland Regional Helicopter Trust (ARHT) is inviting all who love a good challenge to crawl through cargo nets, rope swing across rivers and get down and dirty in support of its vital emergency service.

Action Matakana will host the inaugural Westpac Chopper Challenge on Sunday, November 17 and entry is open for teams of four, aged 16 and up.

ARHT events manager Leanda Hunt says participants will be expected to work together to make sure each team member completes all 30 obstacles in the course.

“Team members need to work together against the clock, much in the way that a real helicopter crew must coordinate to provide patients with the best possible outcome,” she says.

“You don’t need to be an athlete – anybody can do it. In a team of four everyone will have different strengths and help each other out.”

When participants sign up at chopperchallenge.co.nz, they are able to set up a personal fundraising webpage, which can be shared with friends and family on social media. ARHT has set a fundraising target of $100,000 for Westpac Rescue and hopes that at least 30 teams might raise $5000 each through the event, which is around what it takes to fund one mission.

Internationally ranked para-climber Rachel Maia will be taking on the challenge, along with helicopter emergency doctor Louise Park, pilot Simon Owen and intensive care paramedic Rob Gemmell.

“I’ve experienced rescue services first hand, both for myself and my son,” Rachel says. “It made me aware of how much of a need there is to support this service and I am excited to get behind it and hope other Kiwis will too.”

Rachel suffered from a severe ankle break during a climbing accident that left her immobile when she was 16 but spent two decades rehabilitating before placing fourth in the world in para-climbing at the IFSC championships last year.

In February this year, she made the decision to amputate her limb and will be taking on the course with her new prosthetic leg. As well as a prizegiving, there will be a DJ and food truck there on the day and members of the public, as well as friends and family, are encouraged to come along and support challengers.

Info: chopperchallenge.co.nz