Thursday, July 4, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

JUST KEEP MARCHING Raises $11,500 For Homeless Veterans

By Hannah McNamara

In an outstanding display of determination and compassion, 16-year-old Murray McGroarty undertook a 382km walk over nine days during his school holidays to support homeless veterans in Mackay. His initiative, Just Keep Marching, not only aimed to raise funds but also to raise awareness about the challenges faced by veterans experiencing homelessness. Starting each day with laps along the picturesque Bluewater Trail in the early hours of the morning, Murray welcomed the community to participate alongside him, and the impact he has made across the state has been nothing short of remarkable with more than $11,000 raised so far.

Representatives from CASA and Orange Sky Australia, along with Member for Mackay Julianne Gilbert, Mackay RSL Sub Branch President Ken Higgins OAM and proud mother of Murray McGroarty congratulated the successful outcome of the Just Keep Marching initiative. Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

Local Teen Walks 382km To Combat Veteran Homelessness

On June 23rd, Murray kicked off his mission with a 7am start, accompanied by representatives from the RSL and local homelessness services, followed by a BBQ breakfast sponsored by Tender Cut Meats, Mifsuds, and Coles.

Throughout the week, Murray and his supporters set up old-fashioned cake stalls at Mackay Farmers Market and Riverside Markets on June 26th and 27th, selling raffle tickets to further boost donations.  

On June 30th, a TriService coin line challenge was held, where the navy, army and air force competed to create the longest and most valuable coin line to raise additional funds.

As Murray completed his final lap on July 1st at 4pm, the community gathered for a wrap-up event featuring speeches from RSL representatives, homelessness service providers, special guests and Borthwicks steak burgers to celebrate.

Reflecting on his journey, Murray expressed gratitude to everyone who supported his dream from the beginning and made the Just Keep Marching initiative possible.  

“Thank you to everyone involved in making this idea of mine a reality,” Murray said.

Murray highlighted that veterans are part of a significant portion of the 94 per cent categorised under invisible homelessness, often described as "sleeping in cars, on friends' couches, or in spare rooms." He noted that while individuals may suggest they are temporarily staying with friends until they regain stability, many require additional support from communities like ours.

Statistics show that females under 35 who have just left the defence force are more susceptible to being homeless, however, both men and women of all ages are affected.  

As Murray advocates for greater awareness and action on this often-overlooked issue, he urges the community to demonstrate their support by first raising the conversation.  

“It’s time to really get the conversation going and it can all start here in Mackay.”

Respected RSL Mackay Sub Branch President Ken Higgins OAM praised Murray’s dedication and selflessness.  

“There are all sorts of things he could be doing right now, but he’s taken nine days of his school holidays to walk 390km,” Mr Higgins said.

“He had some tough days in the beginning but I couldn’t be prouder… I knew he’d make it.”

Drawing parallels to his own similar effort during the Vietnam War’s 25th anniversary in 1997, Higgins highlighted the importance of addressing veteran homelessness and providing meaningful support to those in need.

“Veteran homelessness is a big problem, there’s vets of all ages out there that are struggling.

“They need a hand up, not a handout, and we hope this will be an ongoing fundraising event in the future.”

The impact of Murray’s Just Keep Marching initiative raised just over $11,600, with funds directly benefiting local veterans facing homelessness while providing essential assistance and support to those in need.

Murray’s initiative not only raised funds for a vital cause but also inspired the community as a whole, leaving a lasting legacy throughout the region for years to come.

Ken Higgins OAM, President of the Mackay RSL Sub Branch
16-year-old Murray McGroarty founded the idea of ‘Just Keep Marching.’ Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

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