Barefoot Dutchman Anton Nootenboom received a warm welcome in Gin Gin as he stopped about halfway through his journey from Cairns to Sydney.
Walking barefoot with a purpose, Anton is on a mission to raise awareness about men’s health, and his aim is to set a Guinness World Record along the way.
“I served in the Dutch army for ten years, including three missions to Afghanistan and have spent the last five years working in construction, both of which are seen as very ‘masculine' environments,” Anton said.
“Throughout my time in these industries, I have seen and experienced men's mental health issues firsthand.
“I want to be the change that I want to see in this world, and show it only takes determination and two bare feet to make a difference.”
Anton said as soon as he reached the Bundaberg Region he felt a sense of community.
“Week Number 13 in the bag and if I had to sum it up in a word, it would be ‘community’,” he said.
“Getting to Gin Gin and walking together on mass barefoot with the locals was awesome. You guys rock.
“All these people welcomed me into their community by doing the #1kbarefootchallenge with me into town… yes that made me feel like Forrest Gump!”
Visiting Gin Gin State School Anton shared his experiences and challenges with the students, and he set a 1km challenge for the senior students.
Gin Gin State School principal Adam Fritz said having Anton visit the school, and also walk within the community, was an experience they wouldn’t forget.
“We met at the Gin Gin Hotel and walked up to the ambulance station and then walked with Anton to the Gin Gin township – he was blown away with how many people turned out to support him,” Adam said.
“He is an inspiration, by walking barefoot all that way and raising funds for the Gotcha 4 Life foundation, which is all around men’s mental health.
“As a school we launched the fathering project earlier this year, and we had Gus Worland come here and speak with about 50 dads around men’s mental health. And as a result through Gus, we have made a connection with Anton.”
Adam said as Gin Gin was a small community, which meant everybody knew everyone and that had significant benefits to support one another.
“Our school creed is that we are a community working together to be the best we can,” he said.
“And to have Anton stop in, that helps us all with this.”
To follow the Barefoot Dutchman's journey click here.
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