Our Winter School Holidays Program hosted over 200 kids of all ages and interests. It started off with our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man as a group of Challenge movie buffs headed to the cinemas to see Marvel’s latest edition – Spiderman: Homecoming. Before kicking up our legs and indulging in some popcorn, we also enjoyed a scrumptious lunch at Chapel Street’s number one American diner, Soda Rock.

We didn’t just stay cosy in winter as we jumped to new heights at Inflatable World!

Amongst all the jumping and sliding, our holiday agenda also featured two culinary arts courses thanks to the generous folks at Olivigna and Vapianos! We learnt the craft behind making the finest pasta and pizza, which our bellies soon after were able to enjoy.  The smiles in the photos say it all – so too the concentration!

Our school holiday escapades also ventured into the night as we hosted the highly anticipated Challenge Slumber Party! With the Pullman on the Park kindly welcoming us into their grand ballroom and letting us run amok for the entire night, we enjoyed what will go down as the night of all nights. Movies, arcade games, face-painting – there was something for everyone including our special guest Jake Stringer, who treated his nails to some pink polish (which he successfully vowed to keep on for the big match against the Kangas)! Saints player Ed Phillips also came along and didn’t want to leave with all the fun that was going on!

July was indeed a massive football month for Challenge with Essendon’s Tackling Childhood Cancer match and St Kilda’s Trevor Barker duel with the Bulldogs.

The annual Tackling Childhood Cancer match was yet another success with the Bombers soaring to victory in what was an epic match with the Roos. Billboards of Essendon FC stars with Challenge superstars could be seen all over Melbourne in the lead up to the big game and powerful forward Jake Stringer even wore his own pair of custom-designed Challenge footy boots on day! While the win was the cherry on top, the greatest triumph of them all was the smiles on all the kids’ faces as they marched their way onto Marvel Stadium’s turf with their AFL heroes, #StrongerTogether.

Similarly, the Barker-Whitten match was just as successful and special for Challenge and its families with the Saints storming to victory, providing Brett Ratten with his first win as coach of St Kilda. Even more heart-warming was seeing Challenge member Hope present the Barker-Whitten Trophy to the Saints’ skipper Seb Ross – any bets that grin is still on her face! In the lead up to the match, a group of Challenge’s most passionate St Kilda families were also invited to a club training session, where they enjoyed some lunch followed by a competitive game of hoops! The players enjoyed hitting the gym with the kids so much, it is rumoured a few even missed their weight session to do so!

For our Challenge families, the moments and memories these AFL experiences provide are truly priceless. For a split second, these kids get to enjoy what life is all about – the small moments, which often make the biggest difference.

From a fundraising point of view, July was again a big month with Team Challenge hitting the streets of Melbourne for the annual Run Melbourne event! Over $20,000 was raised, with much thanks owed to our amazing team of runners, which will all go towards funding our new minibus to replace our beloved but very tired Bernie (and more exciting news will be coming on that front…).

Behind the scenes, for the past ten years we have been working on a dream project with the Nicholas Timms Foundation, which is finally taking shape! You can take a look here!

As you can imagine, the Challenge team is exhausted after a whirlwind July, but with plenty in store this August (and every month thereafter!), we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!

To enjoy a taste of our July, check out the video below!