The Murray Marathon Maniacs - Team Blue Datto have once again proven their ability in both fundraising and paddling as they return from the 2019 Massive Murray Paddle with one of the highest honours.
The Paddle is a 404-kilometre, five-day canoe/kayak flat-water race on the Murray River, bordering Victoria and New South Wales.
It is one of the longest annual flat-water canoe races in the world as it starts in Yarrawonga and finishes at Swan Hill five days later.
Its aim is to "connect people, river and country" and raises funds to assist local community-driven programs.
The Maniacs support the Hawkesbury's Blue Datto Foundation. This is the team's third year participating in the paddle, and they sent the biggest team they've ever had with 23 members.
They were once again awarded number one for their boat, which means entering the paddle they were the highest money-earners.
The Maniacs paddled in memory of their five angels: Phillip Vassallo, Elly Waddups, Joel Murhpy, Ceri Govier and Jessica Eggleton, all tragically lost in road accidents.
At least one family member of each angel participated in the marathon and all of their names were added to the side of the boat.
The number one race was extra special as it took place on the birthday of Jess Eggleton, adding to the big start of the event for the team.
After successfully helping the team last year, Joe Vassallo drove the Blue Datto mini bus down to support them.
He transported a majority of the team and assisted the paddlers at checkpoints, as well as paddling himself.
Throughout the year the team managed to raise $51,550 for the foundation.
They raised most of this at their annual golf day in October, where they managed to raise $51,211, smashing their initial goal and raising $10,000 for each of their angels.
The Maniacs were awarded the Mark Thornthwaite Award for being the highest fundraising team of the event.
Two of the major organisers of the Maniacs, Danielle Mizzi and Katrina Croquett, have been incredibly thankful to everyone who has supported the team and the charity, whether through the golf day or otherwise.
All the money raised will be used to assist in the delivery of the Blue Datto's Keeping Safe Program to high school students in NSW.