CONNOR Sahaley has returned to his roots to complete two gruelling fundraising challenges for the ‘It’s Okay, Not to Be Okay’ charity.
The 22-year-old, who has had his own mental health challenges, including the loss of a Red Hill business during COVID-19 lockdowns, has also known many in his peer group who have struggled with issues of self-esteem, identity and life in general.
Knowing that he wanted to help, Mr Sahaley has been focused on raising money to help reach others struggling with the pressures of life and uncertain times.
Mr Sahaley says he found his level of self-awareness and awakening while challenging himself physically and emotionally during a 24-hour, 111 kilometre walk in June last year from Frankston pier to Sorrento and back.
A friend of one of the founders of the peninsula-based suicide-prevention charity, ‘It’s Okay, Not to Be Okay’, Mr Sahaley raised $8500 through his walk, and was inspired by his success and the community’s generosity to take on the challenge of a bayside swim.
His aim is to show young people that there can be strength from struggle.
Just recently he completed a swim challenge along the peninsula’s beaches that saw him swim nine kilometres every day for nine days, swimming at least 2.5 hours every morning and raising about $11,000.
“One thing for sure these challenges have taught me is that to be vulnerable is to grow, that we have to face challenges to know how to move forward, and so being involved in this has helped me feel like I’m doing something for others, but also doing something for myself,” Mr Sahaley said.
“I like the ability to challenge myself and to move myself and discover what I’m capable of.
“I’ve learned that insecurities are normal, it’s part of life, it’s part of growing.”
‘It’s Okay, Not to Be Okay’ was founded by a peninsula family who lost a son and brother to suicide.
The organisation aims to bring the important conversations of mental health, suicide prevention and grief to the community by hosting events, running social media campaigns and selling merchandise.
Money raised is used by the organisation to run community-based programs around mental health, grief and suicide prevention.
To donate to ‘It’s Okay, Not to Be Okay’ go to itsokaynottobeokay.com.au