My name is Rob and I strive every day to be the best person that I can be, especially for my family. I am a fun-loving and easygoing person, who enjoys working hard and spending time with my wife and children. Like everyone, I have had many battles in my life, and along my journey I was seeking something greater than me.

So here’s part of my story. I began gambling socially at a young age with some friends and family at the time thinking it was nothing but a bit of fun. Years passed, I got older and lost my way with gambling as I got caught up in a scene where it was acceptable and the norm.

At first it was social and enjoyable until it became an addiction and I didn’t even know it at the time. It’s true what they say about addictions, they consume you and push family and friends away and that’s where it keeps you.

However, one day, I felt as though I hit rock bottom and was craving for a way out and wanted a better way of life. So I turned to my faith, as I knew I could rely on God in any battle I had and this was one of the biggest for me. I began praying and asking for forgiveness night after night. In my prayers, I consistently was asking for a way out, for guidance, hope and a new way. It was an ongoing internal battle to say no. I began to struggle as anyone would, praying and keeping my faith up, trying to make a difference.

Then as I was getting ready for work one morning, it was 5am and still dark outside. As I was heading for the door, I heard a noise at the time thinking it was my wife. I turned around and saw whom I believed was St Charbel standing behind me. At this time, I felt strongly that my prayers had been heard, and that in my journey I was never alone. I believe God and St Charbel gave me the strength and willpower to set myself free, and from this point I never looked back.

The things that once made me happy never did anymore. My life was about my faith, work and my family. Nothing else mattered. I had a new lease on life. I felt like something greater gave me a second chance.

Then on Christmas Day 2016, I heard Bishop Robert Rabbat speaking about raising money for building St Elias Melkite Catholic Church in Guildford and the ongoing struggle they were having for decades to do this. The strength and passion in the Bishop sparked something inside me. As I was listening to him, I wanted to know how I could help and what contribution I could possibly make. The very next day, I went for my normal morning walk and when I was walking it came to me that I could contribute by doing what I love – a challenging charity walk to help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help a humble community build their dream!

This small summary will never do true justice to all the trials and tribulations I went through. What I experienced changed me for the better. I can truly say that I feel as though God was there with me every step of the way, but I just had to let Him in. This is one of my main reasons for wanting to do a 300km charity walk from Sydney to Canberra at the start of October this year to hopefully raise $300,000, as it is a way for me to show my great appreciation for my new lease on life.

So, I ask everyone to please help in any way possible, whether you believe in God or not, just to support me for turning my life around and wanting to do my part in supporting my local community. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you in advance.