Ambitious to reach the greatest heights, Dani Curcio and Zoe Skyrianos took on the Ainslie to Everest challenge at Mount Ainslie on Saturday 18th March to raise crucial funds for Lifeline Canberra.

The renowned Ainslie Tricolours players teamed up with their ACT Fire & Rescue peers to face the 17,598 foot climb, up and down Mount Ainslie, equalling the vertical distance of climbing Mount Everest.

It goes without saying the two have admirable tenacity and dedication. Heading up in teams of 5 with 11 kilograms of breathing apparatus strapped to them, they fought the lactic burn and pushed their bodies for a greater purpose. Accomplishing the feat to them, stood as a symbol of how important services like Lifeline are to those in need.

“It could be a family member or a friend that could potentially reach out to Lifeline and you wouldn’t know. They had over 1 million calls just in the last financial year, and that is the most they’ve ever received,” said Zoe.

With deeper understanding from experience in their current jobs as firies in the ACT, the girls held a special motivation after seeing their own peers suffer and some leave work not to return.

“They didn’t get the help like we do now on the job. The peer support system we have in place is great and it really makes you feel comfortable, but back then they didn’t really have that,” said Dani.

There is undoubted necessity for mental health services and Dani’s reflections gave her extra motivation for the climb, staying firmly in her thoughts while she prepared for the challenge ahead.

“The way I see it is like after our 8 hours is done doing the Ainslie to Everest, that’s our pain over. But there are others out there that suffer every day, this is why it is so important,” said Dani.

The two girls have achieved great leaps throughout their time as standout players for the Ainslie Football Club. From Dani Curcio having the Alan Ray Oval scoreboard named after her in light of her claiming the title of most capped 1st grade player reaching 237 games in 2022, to both of them having a major part in the motion to equalise pay across gendered codes in Canberra’s AFL league. Adding this to the list, only entrenches the dedication they both share.

It is an honour that the Ainslie Football & Social Club and Ainslie Football Club have banded together to sponsor the girls $2,500 each ($5000 total) in their undertaking of the challenge. Ainslie Group CEO, Simon Patterson says that the sponsorship means the group can get behind them all the way in their pursuit of tackling the extraordinary.

“It is outstanding to see our AFC stars take their passion and commitment from the field and share it to important initiatives beyond. We are very proud to have Dani and Zoe be long time players where between them they have played 350 games for the club. Our sponsorship means we can also give back to them with our support for what they are achieving,” said Simon.

In 2022 the event raised $55,000 as its very first year, now in its second the hope is to go beyond that for 2023. At the point of starting the climb, the ACT firies had already met last year’s total, lending a strong chance that this year’s donations will set a new record.

Zoe said it simply and honestly, that ‘if you are in a position to help, how could you not.’

Support from the community is paramount, and the girls ask for yours to help fund the mission. Without help, the continuity of these services can be at risk, and without them so can the lives of others.

Visit the fundraising page and donate here

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