Charitable friends go alcohol-free in January

  • “Dryathlon” participants: Patrick Graham, Ben Beasley and Michael Butler hand cheques to Martha Dismont, executive director of the Family Centre, and Glenn Faries, executive director of the Reading Clinic (Photograph by Owain Johnston-Barnes)

A group of friends have put a new twist on the “spirit” of giving with their dry January tradition.

For the third year, the group used the month to support charities by paying into a shared pool each time they drink during the month as part of what they have called a “dryathlon”.

Major Ben Beasley, one of the participants, said this year the group has already donated $1,250 to both Family Centre and the Reading Clinic, with any additional funds to be split between the charities once collected.

Major Beasley said: “It started off originally as a bet, going the month of January without drinking, and we put some money on the table.

“We suggested that the money go to charity and a group of us banded together. Everybody pays $100 to get into the club and if you foul, it’s another $100.

“If you say you can’t do it any more, your buyout is $250 and all sins are forgiven.

“Most people only had to pay $100, but they still put in more.”

He said, this year, the group decided to introduce a “pre-sin tax” of $50 for people who expect to drink for an event.

Major Beasley said: “It’s about squeezing another dollar out of people. We all vote on what charities to donate to, and the top two charities get the cash.”

He said that this year ten people took part in the challenge, but he had been sworn not to disclose who was left with the biggest tab.

Glenn Faries, executive director of the Reading Centre, said the competition highlighted how the community could support charities.

Mr Faries said: “This is a group of people in our community who said let’s get together, do something fun and give back to the community at the same time.

“There are ways that you can give back without being a $25,000 donor, and the way that these guys gave back are just as important to keep the charities going and making sure we see and feel that the work we are doing in the community is making a difference.”

Martha Dismont, executive director of Family Centre, added that every dollar donated to charity can make a difference.

She said: “For people in the community to find a way to support charities, besides the usual donors, is just huge. Every single dollar we get, we can do something with.”