On 23 August this year, Bunbury local (via NZ) and music videographer, Dno Summers, set out from his home town to walk to Sydney on what he calls the Walk For Hope. Having experienced depression for much of his life, including a suicide attempt, and having lost friends to mental illness along the way, Summers is determined to change how we see mental illness and to honour those who have lost their lives.
Walking’s easy, living with a mental illness is hard. That’s harder than walking.Dno Summers
Speaking to Summers from Ceduna in South Australia, around the half-way point of a 4,000+ km journey, we learned that the beginnings of the Walk For Hope were not necessarily a conscious decision on his part. “My depression hacked my Facebook account one day,” Summers said, “and told everyone I was going on this journey. When I woke up the next day, I thought, ‘OK, mate, you’ve got to do it now, because you’ve told everyone you’re going to do it.”
That’s pretty standard for Summers, a man for whom understated is a natural way of being. He’s clear about what he’s doing and what he wants to achieve through his journey, but just don’t call him a hero.
“I hear this all the time, ‘You’re a legend, Dno,’” he told Around The Sound. “I’m just walking. Walking’s easy, living with a mental illness is hard. That’s harder than walking.”
While he may be right, the magnitude of the task Summers has chosen to undertake is almost as big as his heart. If you’ve been following his journey on Facebook, you’ll know that he always speaks about where ‘we’ are going and where ‘we’ are up to in the journey. You could be forgiven for thinking that he’s travelling with a support team, people in a vehicle handing him sports drinks at precise intervals, setting up camp ahead of his arrival at the next destination. But no, he’s doing this journey entirely solo, except for the company of the 200 kg cart that he calls Hope.
The reason Summers talks about ‘we’ is because, “I love including everyone on this journey and the support I’m getting from the local Perth music scene is just overwhelming. It just blows me away, I just love the scene so much.”
The other part of the ‘we’ is the names and memories of people who have lost their lives to mental illness. Summers carries a flag with him and along the journey, people have been adding the names of family and friends lost to suicide. “I’m doing it for the people on the flag,” Summers said, emotion colouring his voice. “The people on the flag are the motivation and I genuinely feel that they’re worth it. They’re a big inspiration. I don’t know where the idea of the flag came from, it just appeared. It’s a flag of hope. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it. I’m really protective of the flag. They were people at one stage. They were your brother, your sister, your cousin. They are people.
“It’s pretty powerful when I bring it out, because I only bring it out for people to sign.”
Dno Summers is at the half-way point of his journey to Sydney and expects to arrive sometime in March 2020. In the meantime, he needs our help. Reliant entirely on donations and the goodwill of people he meets along the way, Summers is also looking to raise money to help raise awareness of mental health and suicide.
When you buy this edition of Around The Sound, $1 from the purchase price goes to Dno Summers and the Walk For Hope. With your help we can raise $10,000!
We’ve all been touched by mental illness at some point in our lives, either directly — like me — or indirectly through the experiences of family and friends, so, please give generously and help us create a little Christmas holiday miracle.
If you have been affected by the content of this article and need to speak to someone, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.