The Wagner and Howden family set off from Richmond on Saturday to Yarrawonga to take part in the Massive Murray Paddle to raise money for the Black Dog Institute with a 16-strong team.

The five day paddle to Swan Hill starts on November 18 and will see the their team, Wild Blue Family, paddle 404kms over five days cheered on by their six-strong support team.

Jessica Wagner, who runs the Curves gym at North Richmond will be paddling with husband Stewart and their 14-year-old son Jack. Their 8-year-old daughter Charlotte is water girl and support crew member. Also on the trip will be grandparents Brendan and Carmel Howden and Theo Wagner, cousin Brendan Sheppard plus a group of friends and gym members. So far they have raised over $10,000 which is more than double the original $5000 target.

“The aim is to get people talking emotional health,” said Jess. “It’s ok to have a cry and tell how people how you feel. It started as a family event, it was something we could do together as a family and achieve something together”

She said the family had members dealing with anxiety, depression and bi-polar disorder and the aim was to encourage people to talk about their mental health.

She said the Paddle was a perfect challenge as exercise plays a huge part in restoring good mental health.

“We were looking for a challenge and thought this was not only good for our bodies but our mental health as well.“

The family will be posting updates on their Facebook page, Wild Blue Family – Massive Murray Paddle and would love people to follow their journey.