Variety B to B Bash – We’re Changing Lives for Aussie Kids

Founded a century ago, Variety – The Children’s Charity, established its presence in Australia in April 1975. Over the past four decades, participants of the Variety B to B Bash have raised an impressive $270 million. As we gear up for our next event in August, Form1 caught up with Variety Executive Director, David Small, to discuss the significant impact Variety has on the lives of Australians.

Hi David, how long have you been doing the B to B Bash?

I did my first Bash in 1992. I didn’t know much about Variety then – I just wanted to drive an old car in the outback. I had young kids and got involved. I was only going to do one – this year will be my 29th Bash! Thirty if it wasn’t for Covid.

That’s amazing! Why is it important businesses, like Form1, participate in events like this?

Variety is often a charity of last resort for many children and their families. The NDIS is doing a good job but there are huge gaps in supply of special equipment, especially in regional areas the Bash passes through. Kids in regional areas often don’t get access to NDIS and that’s where Variety steps in to help. Without fundraisers, like Form1, on the Bash we can’t do all the things we do.

Variety plays a vital role in positively impacting the lives of underprivileged children and their families.

Many disadvantaged kids, and those with a disability, have nowhere to turn without Variety. It costs about five times as much to raise a child with a disability and many families can’t afford things, such as standing frames, that need to be specially built for the child. One powered wheelchair we quoted for was $48,000. I’ve worked with Variety since 2009 and learnt so much about the gaps in Government ability – we can’t expect them to do everything.

How does the B to B Bash impact the communities we visit?  

If you take 100 cars into an overnight stop, by the time you’ve accommodated, fed, and fuelled everyone, that’s a big injection into the local economy. The University of Queensland did a study on the economic impact of Variety, and it turns out we inject about $70,000 each night into the towns we stay in and $40,000 into the towns we lunch in.

On an individual level, Variety changes lives.

In NSW two of our Board members were recipients in their teenage years and both have gone on to do wonderful things. Greg has cerebral palsy and when he was younger there were concerns, he would never work. Now, he lives independently, works in IT, drives a modified car, and works on our Board. Tatiana had alopecia. She was teased and kids at school would pull her wig off. Variety bought her a human hair wig and she went back to competitive swimming. Now, she’s the CEO of a commercial property company.

You must hear lots of similar stories on the road.

When we were at Blackhall in Queensland, we met a 10-year-old with Cerebral Palsy. She got an adaptive trike she could ride to and from school. Her Dad was a farmer, and he came to thank everybody. As soon as he started to speak he started crying, and every Basher was crying – there were a lot of claims of dust in the air that day. We heard later the local IGA widened the aisles so she could ride her trike there. Years later we went back, and she was 20 and told us how that trike had changed her life. She’d finished school and was doing great things.

What’s the focus for Variety over the next five years?

We are working with Green Fleet around carbon offsets for all our motoring events and we’ve trademarked EV Bash and E Bash. It might be five years down the track, but we are looking at ways we can keep people engaged. As times change, we’ll change with them. We’ve also raised the age of the cars so it’s less expensive for people to get involved. We’re helping the next generation come through. Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the B to B Bash so we’ve got some great plans for that. And 2025 will be the 50th anniversary – we’re planning a National Bash, where all states will meet in Adelaide on the same day.

How would you encourage others to get involved?

If you’re interested go and do it! Very few people do just one – they end up doing five, 10 or 15 – it gets in their blood. You visit areas and do things you wouldn’t normally do and it’s a great sense of achievement. If you can’t go support a Bash team. Donations are never spent on the cars or teams – all the money donated goes directly to the kids through Variety. Variety is now in 13 countries around the world and all the money raised by Variety stays in the country it’s raised in.

We’ll be on the B to B Bash from August 6 – 16. If you’d like to donate to our team, please click on the link here.

Follow the blog below to read more about the Bash from Form1 CEO, Steve Shirlaw

Variety Bash: Helping kids in need