LISTEN: Man paddles for days to save trafficked 'orphans'
WADE James had just stepped out of the ocean at Bargara after a solo ocean ski paddle from Noosa to complete his Paddle Home fundraiser.
Wiping tears from his face, Mr James says "I did it not for me but for the children".
The aim was to raise money and awareness for the Forget Me Not Foundation, which helps reunite children in orphanages with their family in countries like Nepal, Uganda and India.
When you think about orphanages, the last thing that comes to mind is children being trafficked away from loving families in a money-swindling scam.
But this was the sad realisation for Craig and Mel Manley, who had once helped run such an orphanage believing they were helping.
Mrs Manley said when she figured out the children were being taken away from homes in hopes for a better future, only to be then dumped by scammers alone in the orphanage, her heart broke.
This is why the Manleys helped start the Forget Me Not Australia.
Paddle Home was one of this year's major fundraisers for the organisation.
Mr James said his journey was inspired by dad Bob, who paddled from Bundaberg to Brisbane 30 years ago to raise awareness for breast cancer.
It was his second time paddling for a cause after doing the same nine years ago for Parkinson's disease.
Paddle Home kicked off on Saturday.
With strong winds against him, Mr James said it was the hardest day of his life.
"It was really hard physically and mentally - I was absolutely shattered and an hour or two in you think why I am doing this?
"And then you remember and it chokes you up a little bit.
"We are hoping to raise $100,000 from this and it's all worth it.
"It's just constant movement and you get a numb bum," he joked.
The 46-year-old said there was still time to donate at the Every Day Hero website and a gala dinner was being held on Friday night to help reach that goal.
Mrs Manley said every cent would go to help rescue child victims of trafficking and give them health checks before finding their families.
"Almost 85% of these children are not actually orphans but were handed over by their family thinking they were giving them a better life," she said.
Mrs Manley said the traffickers would con families into believing they would take their children to get a top education, but would instead sell them to unscrupulous orphanages that would them exploit them to collect donations.
The Paddle Home Gala will be held at the Brothers Leagues Club tomorrow at 6.30pm.
For more information go to the website http://forgetmenot.org.au/events/paddlehome/