It's been seven months since former cricketer and Australian Survivor All Stars contestant Lee Carseldine lost his beloved mum Elizabeth to stroke.
In March, Lee and Survivor All Stars winner, model David Genat, launched a fundraising campaign called the Towel Challenge as a way to pay tribute to Elizabeth. The Towel Challenge aimed to increase stroke awareness and raise money for the Stroke Foundation's research program.
Incredibly, with the help of their fellow Survivors, stroke survivors, their families and the greater community, the campaign has raised almost $50,000.
Lee would wholeheartedly like to thank everyone who has supported the Towel Challenge so far.
"I have been blown away by the generosity of people all around the country and their willingness to put on a towel for a good cause," Lee said.
"It has filled my heart with joy and personally offered me comfort at a very sad time."
However, Lee is not ready to throw in the towel just yet. He initially set a fundraising goal of $77,000 to mark his mum's age of 77 and his cricket number. In true survivor style, Lee is determined to reach that target.
"I am not giving up. The Towel Challenge is still running and I am working on another project to help achieve the goal, with details to be released soon," Lee said.
"I know the COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives in recent months, but stroke still happens every nine minutes in Australia.
"Stroke touches people of all ages and from all walks of life. My father Stuart also had a stroke 13 years ago and it changed his life in an instant. Thankfully he is still with us but he requires ongoing care."
The Towel Challenge has highlighted to Lee that his family's experience is not unique and they are not alone.
"So many people have shared their own or a loved one's stroke story on their social media feeds. I am proud the campaign has encouraged more people, from every age, to talk about stroke. The disease is so prevalent, yet it doesn't get the attention it deserves," Lee said.
There will be more than 56,000 strokes in Australia this year alone and the numbers are growing each year as our population grows and ages and lifestyles become more sedentary.
Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said it did not need to be this way.
"Stroke can be prevented for many and it can be treated only if people know the signs and get to hospital FAST," Ms McGowan said.
"Despite huge advances in treatment in recent years, there are still many unanswered questions in stroke. All funds raised through the Towel Challenge will support our researchers to find the medical breakthroughs that will save more lives and benefit generations to come.
"I commend Lee for his passion and his tenacity to reach his target of $77,000. If you haven't already, please support this incredibly worthy fundraising campaign."
To participate, grab a towel and take a photo (however you'd like to wear it), post it onto Instagram in black and white, with #towelchallenge or call out friends and family to join the challenge. You can also make a donation or purchase a calendar.