Steve Monaghan will never forget the day he lost one of his best mates.
At the time he wrestled with the idea of whether there was anything more he could have done to change the outcome when Danny Roods lost his battle with mental illness.
It's why the Wauchope-Bonny Hills Surf Life Saving Club surfboat sweep feels so passionately about the Australia-wide 24-hour row for mental health awareness on October 30 and 31.
"I've known people who have a mental illness and also a dear friend of mine committed suicide in his late-30s which really affected us," Monaghan said.
"That sort of thing has a ripple effect that goes right through the community. We all questioned could we have done more."
Monaghan admitted education is the key as a variety of communities around the country continue to learn more about mental illness and its debilitating effect.
Consequently the focus has started to shift - and for the better.
"When I was growing up mental illness was looked at as a weakness, but now as we learn more about it, it's not," Monaghan said.
"It's a black hole that you spiral into and without the right help you keep on spiralling down. Unless you have the support base somewhere or some guidance it's hard to get out of the hole."
The 24-hour row has continued to grow in importance since its inception in 2018 and everyone that was there in 2020 at Wauchope-Bonny Hills will be there again next weekend.
Up to 10 rowing machines will be set up for the opening and closing stages of the event.
"Pretty well everyone from last year has committed so that's about 30-odd people, but we're definitely looking for more," Monaghan said.
"We work on an aggregate of distance - that's why we sit on the indoor rowers and they measure our time and kilometres. That all tallies up."
The funds raised will go to charity Gotcha4Life where they will distribute it into mental health awareness workshops.
"It's a bit of fun and a challenge ... not one person is going to sit on a rowing machine for 24 hours so it's a shared effort and we work together," Monaghan said.
The 24-hour row will take place at Wauchope-Bonny Hills Surf Life Saving Club.
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