Strongman out to empower others with unique fundraiser

Strongman out to empower others with unique fundraiser

Competitive Strongman Brad Currell is using his strength to help others feel empowered by raising money for one mental health organisation.

Brad will be hosting what he calls a Yoke Challenge – a gruelling morning of carrying heavy loads ranging anywhere from 60-160kgs a short distance – on Sunday, March 27.

The idea for the Yoke Challenge was born during COVID, when Brad and a mate wanted to give back to the community.

“We thought this was a really awesome idea – something no one else had done before,” Brad says.

“Last year we raised $5,000, so this year I am hoping to beat that.”

The event will be held from 7am-midday, with competitors battling it out in teams to move the heavy yokes over a five-hour period.

A Strongman yoke is a metal frame that is loaded with weight and carried across the shoulders of the athlete.

“We have 25 people, and seven teams in total, and they will carry anywhere from 60-160kgs,” Brad says.

“We will only be moving them a short distance, but it will take a massive toll on our bodies.

“There is a 74-year-old lady who will be carrying 60kgs, and Australia’s current reigning strongest woman Nicole Genrich, who is pregnant, and she will be carrying 100kgs.”

The day will also feature competitions the crowd can join in too, as well as raffles, giveaways and a coffee cart.

“We will have a sledgehammer holding competition, where you have to hold the sledgehammer in front of you for as long as you can,” Brad says.

“The competitions will test your strength, but they won’t be anything intensive that you will need to specially train for and won’t injure yourself doing.”

The inaugural event last year was held at CrossFit Might in Deception Bay, where Brad trains.

However, this year the challenge will be held at the multi-sport court at Australian Catholic University on Earnshaw Road, Banyo.

Raising much-needed funds

This unique challenge will not only promote this niche sport but will also raise much-needed funds for the Black Dog Institute, Australia’s only medical research institute to investigate mental health across the lifespan.

Through this fundraiser, and an organisation that Brad helped to set up called Strength 4 Strength, he’s hoping to raise awareness of mental health issues and start conversations within the community to reduce the stigma.

“This is the second year I have done the Yoke Challenge…. and since starting this I have found the conversations we have had, the conversations that people have had with us, has helped people to open up and reach out for help,” Brad says.

“One thing I have learnt is that we have all walked around most our lives thinking we were the only ones going through tough times, but in fact there are others who have felt the same way at one time or another.

“Mental health is about coping with anxiety every day, depression, the stress that comes from work, and helping to raise awareness about this, that’s what I am strong about.”

Brad says he is impressed by the work Black Dog Institute does and that’s why he has chosen to support them.

Health scare leads to positive change

A health scare 10 years ago led Brad to become a Strongman competitor.

“Just over 10 years ago, I had a heart attack when I was 43-years-old,” Brad says.

“I was working 60 hours a week, was a heavy smoker, and hadn’t exercised in years…. I weighed 160kgs when I had the heart attack.

“I was one of the lucky ones though.

“But not being in control of my health really concerned me, and I always like to be in control.”

Brad decided to make some lifestyle challenges, so he took up running. He ran for a couple of years and completed the Gold Coast Half Marathon two years later.

He then tried CrossFit but took up Strongman when he turned 50.

“I’m a naturally strong person, so I have always liked stuff like strength sports,” Brad says.

“My kids always said to me I should take up Strongman because I’m strong.”

Now, Brad competes on the world stage, and is currently ranked sixth in the world following the Strongman World Titles in Daytona, Florida last year. He competed in the 50 plus age division.

“Strongman is a niche sport, but I am extremely happy to finish where I did,” Brad says.

“It’s not as big in Australia just yet…. we only have a 40 plus division here, and I came in second at a competition in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago. Such is the Strongman community however that two of the people I competed with in Masters division will be carrying yokes alongside me next weekend.”

Brad will once again jet off to Daytona at the end of this year to compete in the World Titles again.

His training schedule is quite intense – he trains at least four times a week for up to three hours a day.

How you can help

Brad is currently raising money online for Black Dog Institute and has his own fundraising page on their website.

Personally, he has raised $2,300, but overall, the Brisbane participants have already raised more than $10,000 for the cause. 

If you would like to help, click here.

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