Fuelled by friendship and guided by generosity, the Herd of Hope is bound for Bondi.
What started out as the grand idea of dual organ transplant recipient Megan McLoughlin, Tanunda, to bring the bush to the city and shine the light on organ donation, is set to become reality in just over a week – and in no small part, thanks to endless generosity from across the country.
Last week, the Herd of Hope put out a call to help them find a way to NSW.
The herd had made its way south from Undoolya Station in the NT just before Christmas, to its current “stopover” on the Stockwell property of Farmer Johns owners Marlene and Greg Schubert.
NSW-based Hayters Transport was ready to pick them up in Narrandera, NSW, this Friday, March 9 – but they needed to hitch a ride to make that connection.
Enter Roseworthy livestock carriers DF and E Kemp and Sons.
Peter and Annette Kemp, and their son Ben, didn’t hesitate to offer Megan’s Herd of Hope a lift.
When the Herald asked Peter why they had answered the call, he seemed genuinely surprised to even be asked.
“Because we’ve gotta,” he said.
Ben simply said, “knowing Megan and her family, wherever we can help out, we’d like to”.
“It’s just the country and bush way to help others out,” he said.
Ben has been an organ donor since he was 16.
“As soon as he got his licence, he put his name down,” Annette said.
According to Megan – who has embraced what she calls her “second chance” – there is still a stigma attached to the topic of organ donation.
“There’s this idea that everyone who needs a transplant has done the wrong thing,” she said.
“But how can you say that about an 18-month-old?
“If you’re questioning donation, go sit in a transplant recipient clinic and take a look; those people aren’t going to waste a second chance.
“You’re never necessarily going to be thanked for being an organ donor, but that’s not why you do it.”
When she was younger, Annette said there was “no way” she’d consider donating her organs.
“But then you have a family, and you hear about someone’s son or daughter needing it (a transplant), and you think, if that was my child, I would want someone to do that.”
Megan has been overwhelmed by the support of the Kemps.
“If you’re rurally based and you need a hand, sometimes you don’t necessarily want to ask,” she said.
“I hope (going forward) that mine and Ben’s generation realise that you can actually do something for a person because it’s the right thing to do – no other reason.”
Peter summed it up in simple bush terms.
“My dad always told me if you can’t do someone a good turn, don’t do ‘em a bad turn.”
The mateship of the bush is something Megan hopes the Herd of Hope will take to Sydney on Saturday, March 17.
“Mateship is alive and well,” she said.
“If it helps to take a herd of cattle to Bondi, then that’s what we will do.”
The Herd of Hope will embark on the final leg of its journey when it leaves Stockwell this Thursday.
After its Bondi appearance, it will return to the Barossa indefinitely.
The heifers will be joined to bulls and the sale proceeds from the resultant calves (once grown) will be used to fund a series of camps for children affected by organ donation.