Locals selected to carry Queen's Baton through Gatton
BY the time the Queen's Baton arrives in Gatton in May, it will have travelled thousands of kilometres, visited numerous countries and passed through thousands of hands.
Eighteen locals will bring the baton through town as the global relay reaches its final stages and the Gold Coast, host of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, draws ever closer.
While Olympic and Commonwealth games champions have played their part so far, it is a group of local heroes, such as Cody Mason and Michael Vaughan, who have been selected to carry the baton as it makes its way through the Lockyer Valley.
Faith Lutheran College senior Cody was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and his parents were told he would never be able to speak.
Now he has ambitions to study aviation with the goal of becoming a pilot, commits his time to volunteer at Tabeel Lutheran Home in Laidley and has served as an assistant coach for his school's rugby team.
He couldn't wait for the big day to come around to come around on March 29.
"I actually feel pretty privileged to be involved with this,” Cody said.
"I think it's just they were really intrigued by my story and how I carry myself in life.
"When I was two years old I was diagnosed with autism... I was told that I was never going to be able to speak, that I would never be smarter than a six month old... and (now) I'm off to university.
"(My family) are really proud of me and proud of my achievements.”
Mr Vaughan started helping out at the Gatton Swimming Club when he first he signed his daughters up twenty years ago.
But even when his kids moved on, the now retired physical education teacher stayed and, close to two decades on, he has never left.
His commitment to the development of young swimmers has seen him named as a life member of the Gatton club, as well as a number of different organisations including the Darling Downs Swimming Association, the Darling Downs School Sport Region, Queensland 10-12 Swimming, Queensland 10-12 Athletics and Queensland School Sport.
He ran with the Sydney Olympic Torch through Toowoomba in 2000 but was looking forward to carrying the baton closer to home this time around, having taught at most of the schools in the Lockyer in his time.
"I'm sure I will have lots of people there calling out to me that I'm not running fast enough, I'll have a lot of family and friends and the swimming club I'm sure will be there,” Mr Vaughan said.
"It's good to be honoured, it's good to have people appreciate what you do, that's really lovely. I certainly don't do it to run the relay though.”
It was an extra special moment for Mr Vaughan as an avid watcher of the games.
"I'm a bit of a, not only Commonwealth Games, but an Olympics Games nut,” he said.
"When they're on I just love those.”
Lockyer Valley Regional Councillor Chris Wilson said the excitement would be palpable with the relay coming through the region so close to the start of the games.
"Our community really does love their sport as well so the Commonwealth Games in itself will create a lot of interest but to have the baton actually come through our area I think will be fantastic and really will create a lot of interest in local communities,” Cr Wilson said.
Before the baton reaches Gatton on March 29, it will travel through Somerset and arrive in Kilcoy two days prior on March 27.
Queen's Baton bearers for Gatton:
Ann Bichel (Forest Hill), Liam Bichel (Forest Hill), Tyler Brimblecombe (Forest Hill), Tara Chaplin (Mount Hallen), Rob Coutts (Summerholm), Dan Flanagan (Laidley), Chloe Gallagher (Redback Creek), Michelle Hunter (Spring Creek), Claire Keefer (Withcott), Cody Lyon (Grandchester), Cody Mason (Regency Downs), Greg Oliver (Doncaster), Chelsea Reinke (Placid Hills), Jessalyn Scott (Gatton), Chantal Simpson (Lockyer Waters), Michael Vaughan (Gatton), Julie Wendt (Bridgeman Downs) and Michael West-McInnes (Toowoomba).
Queen's Baton bearers for Kilcoy:
Geoff Blogg (Villeneuve), Rachael Harper (Wamuran), Matthew Heck (Esk), Graham King (Glenfern) and Sage Volschenk (Benarkin).