MERCURY SERIES: MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Casey Becker of Barrack Heights has taken charity to new heights.
She recently organised the world's highest gig, on Mt Everest, to support poor children in Nepal.
Ms Becker's path to Nepal began in 2009 when she decided to take a gap year after completing her HSC at Warilla High.
She set off for London and soon after her arrival began organising cabarets, which led her to a not-for-profit live music venue called the White Lion Streatham.
Australian musician Oz Bayldon established the White Lion to raise funds to build an orphanage in Nepal under the arm of his charity Music4Children.
Mr Bayldon discovered the White Lion alone could not generate enough funds to permanently sustain an orphanage so he turned to extreme events to raise more.
Ms Becker started work at the White Lion as a hostel and cabaret manager but was soon organising acoustic nights and then extreme music events and festivals.
This month's "world's highest gig" involved 12 musicians and took Ms Becker 12 months to organise.
But all the work was worthwhile - it set a Guinness World Record and raised $40,000 for the Music4Children orphanage.
"The team set off on May 1 and climbed 6476m," she said. "Carrying musical equipment, they climbed for 16 days and on May 16 they performed the highest ever gig."
Despite raising the most money, Ms Becker could not take part in the climb and gig because of a medical condition.
While the gig was under way, she returned to Australia to spend time with her mum, Kerry Taylor, at Shellharbour, then flew to Kathmandu on Wednesday to rejoin the team after they completed their descent.
They also put on a week-long street festival for the children of Kathmandu.
"We are playing directly to the kids on the street in the poorest areas in Kathmandu and in schools," she said. "Some of these people will have never heard live music before. These are areas where there is a glue-sniffing epidemic."
Ms Becker took her guitar and a suitcase full of donated instruments to give to children in the Music4Children orphanage. "We'll also be going into orphanages and schools and doing workshops with them, and getting them to perform and learn," she said.
"Once all the money from this fundraiser goes through, we'll have kids in our own orphanage to support and fewer children on the streets."
Ms Becker hopes publicity on the event will generate more donations.
"We are getting the trek filmed for a documentary by the son of John-Paul Davidson, who directed Brian Blessed's film Galahad of Everest," Ms Becker said.
The charity is also supported by celebrity patrons such as Sting, Stephen Fry, Elle Macpherson and Brian Blessed.
"Elle Macpherson stumbled across us at the Neve Festival we throw for kids in London," she said.
"When we told her about what we do she got interested, really supported us and made this awesome video."
For Ms Becker, the past three years have been life changing.
Last Christmas her boyfriend, Andrew Foord, gave her a guitar but she had never played a musical instrument before. This week she has been playing it to street kids in Nepal.
She will not be resting on the success of this event. She is already thinking about the next fundraiser - a Rumble in the Jungle in the Amazon.
If you know someone who deserves to be recognised, please email Greg Ellis: GEllis@illawarramercury.com.au