THIS Chanukah, a group of Jews will trade their menorahs for a mainsail as they compete in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race to raise funds for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research.
Raymond Schwartz, his sons Laurence and Daniel, Michael Dinte, Phil Stricker and Michael Herrman will be part of a crew of around 15 sailors on the yacht Eve in the gruelling contest, which begins on Boxing Day.
“Sailing has always been a passion of mine and the Sydney to Hobart has always been a kind of iconic race that sailors aspire to,” Schwartz told The AJN, adding it was special to have his sons join him.
“We’ve always enjoyed boating and sailing so we thought it might be a nice journey to go on together.”
Adding a charity raising component to the challenge, he said, gives it an additional dimension.
“My mother has advanced Alzheimer’s disease and we’ve all had family members who’ve either had Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease,” he said.
“So it’s something we’re all familiar with and diseases which have all affected people near and dear to us.”
Money raised will go to neurodegenerative diseases research at the University of Sydney, where Professor Jillian Kril and Associate Professor Greg Sutherland are leading the Alzheimer’s research, and Professor Glenda Halliday and Professor Simon Lewis head up the Parkinson’s team.
“Sydney University is a centre of excellence in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and both Phil and I have an association with that,” Schwartz said.
To prepare for the contest, the team has been training since March. In addition to training on Sydney Harbour, they sailed up to Port Stephens in April, participated in the Hamilton Island Yacht Race in August, sailed to and from Lord Howe Island and competed in the Bird Island Race.
The crew has also had to undertake a maritime safety course.
“We approach it with anticipation but with humility now that we’ve experienced what it can serve up out there,” Schwartz said of the race.
He encouraged people, particularly those who have had family members affected by either disease, to take this opportunity to donate to these “superb researchers”.
“They’re terrific causes and hopefully between now and the race itself a whole bunch of people will come on board, so to speak, and contribute,” he said.
“We hope to raise as much as we possibly can.”
To donate, visit crowdfunding.sydney.edu.au/project/16697.