Dry July hailed as great success

Thirsty Dry July participants from Manawatu will be saying cheers this week after getting through a month booze-free for the campaign.

About 71 people from Manawatu took part in the annual campaign, raising a total of $11,918, along with participants from the Whanganui region.

Palmerston North 21-year-old Woody Maxey-Graham, who teamed up with his flatmates for the Dry July challenge, said they breezed through it, raising $871 between them.

"All the boys in my flat got through. I didn't really miss drinking much; I haven't had a blowout yet."

The challenge became a bit of a competition for his group to see who could raise the most money, Maxey-Graham said.

"It was good. It was cool. We'll probably do it again next year. It was a good experience - a real feel-good thing."

Manawatu-Whanganui region's biggest fundraiser for Dry July was Steve Hanna, who raised $1067 for his efforts.

Hanna, who was diagnosed with throat cancer late last year and has spent the majority of this year recovering, was encouraged to give Dry July a go by his niece.

"I've always drunk more than I should, shall we say . . . I was expecting it to be pretty tough but once I got into it I was really enjoying it so I think as a result it's probably changed my drinking habits permanently," he said.

Hanna said the challenge had resulted in a lifestyle change for him; he had signed up with a personal trainer and was now a "morning person".

"Through Dry July I just had so much more energy and I was much more motivated. I haven't been this fit since I was 20 and I'm 50 now."

Hanna said he planned on "cracking a cold one" to watch the rugby on Saturday night but that would be about it.

As well as changing his lifestyle, it was also a good cause to support, Hanna said: "When you're going through it [cancer] you really do need all the support you can get."

Dry July co-founder Brett McDonald said Dry July had been a huge success in New Zealand this year.

"The consistent increase in New Zealanders taking part in Dry July is fantastic. Seeing so many Kiwis go booze-free to help improve the wellbeing of adult cancer patients is incredibly gratifying," he said.

The money will go to cancer patients at Auckland region and Northland hospitals, Canterbury Regional Cancer and Haematology Service, and Wellington Blood and Cancer Centre.

Manawatu Standard