Baton bearer epitomises the Rotary motto

SAINT SANDERSON: Surfers Sunrise Rotary Club wheelchair project chairman, and soon-to-be Commonwealth Games baton bearer, Daryl Sanderson talks with pride about his work for disadvantaged children overseas.
SAINT SANDERSON: Surfers Sunrise Rotary Club wheelchair project chairman, and soon-to-be Commonwealth Games baton bearer, Daryl Sanderson talks with pride about his work for disadvantaged children overseas. Picasa

IF ANYONE deserves accolades, it's longtime volunteer Daryl "Saint" Sanderson.

The Surfers Sunrise Rotary Club wheelchair project chairman, of Runaway Bay, was honoured with an OAM in August, and will follow that up by taking his place in the Commonwealth Games Baton Relay in early-2018.

Daryl is said to be "a rare individual" who has dedicated about 50 of his 70 years to helping others.

In effect, he epitomises Rotary's motto, Service Above Self.

As wheelchair trust chairman, he has organised the construction of more than 8000 wheelchairs to be sent to 31 underdeveloped countries during the last 20 years.

The program started when a Rotary Club member travelled to Fiji and saw children immobilised by their disability.

It helps youngsters in Vanuatu, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Vietnam, Cambodia and Nigeria.

Clearly moved by the experience, Daryl recalls the time he saw a crippled girl confined to a bed inside her home in Vanuatu - and the difference having a wheelchair made to this child as she rushed outside to play with friends.

"I've been to a few of the countries, delivering wheelchairs and for business," Daryl said.

"These children have nothing."

Daryl won't be covering the few hundred metres he'll be allocated in the Queen's Baton Relay quickly - he'll walk, preferring to savour every second. Meanwhile, a shipping container carrying 190 wheelchairs will soon leave for Pakistan.

Daryl said the donations also include woollen clothing for children, wooden toys, shoes, books and medicines, plates and cutlery.

Rotary District Governor Darrell Brown paid tribute to Daryl in 2016, saying: "Daryl is a quiet unassuming chap who gets on with the work in the Rotary Club of Surfers Sunrise shed at Arundel.

"It is rare for him not to be doing some work associated with the wheelchairs every day of the week to keep the project's wheels turning.

"This extends to organising retirees taking kits home to assemble the bikes, sending kits to half-a-dozen Rotary clubs around Australia and then receiving these back at the shed for checking."

DG Darrell said more than 550 people were involved in the international operation of this project, including prisoners from Palen Creek Correctional Centre at Strathpine who help build wheelchairs and source bikes.

Volunteers for the Surfers Sunrise Rotary Club wheelchair project meet regularly at the community centre near the Arundel State School carpark, Napper Road, Parkwood.

"We have grandfathers come on Saturday to help us," Daryl said.

"They work in all different areas.

"We built a schoolhouse in the shed. We took over (to Samoa) water tanks, kids' equipment, and turned the container into a toilet block."

When Rotary members went to Apia, Samoa in 2012, they discovered children who were survivors of sexual abuse, some as young as 12 who had babies.

Since then, the volunteers have built an orphanage called the House of Hope catering for 80 children.

They finished the Matafaa School nearby just a month ago, in a village that was devastated by a tsunami in 2009.

Daryl said the wheelchair project no longer needed discarded bikes, but money could be donated as it cost $95 to buy timber and wheels for one wheelchair.

The wheelchair tyres are made puncture-proof with foam tubing, a modification for rough conditions in developing countries.

The Queen's Baton arrives in Australia on December 24.

Daryl will be among more than 3500 bearers who will bring the baton across the country to the opening ceremony at the Gold Coast on April 4.

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