Coast builder to tackle 11km swim for little girl in need
FROM a distance, Summer Latimer is like any other 10-year-old, sport is her lifeline, from nippers to soccer, swimming to MMA.
She's intelligent, charming, has braces and loves animals but inside, she's sometimes screaming.
When she was seven Summer was diagnosed with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder meaning everyday tasks are near impossible.
In her corner is her family, including father Gary who will go to the ends of the Earth for his daughters.
In April the Coast builder will tackle the Island Charity Swim from Mudjimba to Moolooaba, even if it kills him.
"Sport is her release but so is our dog Chilli, every night she goes to sleep with him. She can't sleep without him," Mr Latimer said.
"Her condition is kind of like walking into a room with 1000 televisions blaring at you. She can't focus on anything at once.
"When she is in public, she is smart enough to know what she has and hold it in, but it's the meltdowns and fits that she can't control.
"For any kid walking down a street is easy, but for her, it can be a nightmare. You don't know what is going on in her head."
Through Pomona-based Smart Pups Assistance Dogs, Summer has qualified for her perfect companion but it comes with a $25,000 price tag.
Mr Latimer will tackle the 11km open water to raise money towards the dog, all for his special little girl.
He says he'll have an endless supply of motivation when every stroke of fatigue sets in.
"I'm not a small person, and not an athlete, this is going to be tough and I'm already nervous," he said.
"But I've started training and the open water doesn't worry me. Really it's a small price to pay.
"This dog will be her life. They take 18 months to train and will be at her side the whole time.
"I didn't want to just ask for money, so I decided to do something for her."
To donate - money can be transferred by the following details
- Account name: Smart pups
- BSB: 034 198
- Account number: 415185
- Must have Summer Latimer as reference
Sunshine Coast Daily senior journalist Bill Hoffman started the Mudjimba-Mooloolaba Charity Island Swim with best mate Ashley Robinson 16 years ago.
Over the years it has raised more than $1.6 million for Nambour and Currimundi Special Schools and is recognised as one of the Sunshine Coast community days of the year.
He said the swim was not to be taken lightly and offered his six tips to conquer the 11km.
1. Swim to the Island. It can be the hardest stage going directly against the swell.
2. You need to pace yourself, it's a long way. You get euphoria moments which you should bank and try to extend, because they can go flat at the end.
3. Consider your line from the Island to Mooloolaba beforehand. You don't want to be caught in an outgoing tide and treading water for an hour.
4. As hard as it gets, it will never be as hard as it is for parents who have children with special needs.
5. Forget about sharks, don't worry about them and conserve energy.
6. Don't have too many beers the night before.