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Novocastrian Jack O’Toole resists beer pressure for good cause

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Social stigma has proven no deterrent for Jack O’Toole, who is one month into a year-long pledge to give up alcohol.

So strong in his convictions was the Newcastle East resident that he started the challenge at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

“I handed a half-drunk beer to my mate, and he asked, ‘Are you serious?’” Jack told the Newcastle Weekly.

Jack O’Toole has given up beer for a year to support Camp Quality.

“That mindset has been really important.”

It’s all for a good cause, with the 28-year-old raising money for Camp Quality, a non-profit organisation, which supports kids impacted by cancer.

It’s one close to Jack’s heart, having personally battled a brain tumour as a child.

Since then, he’s looked for every opportunity to give back to the organisation, regularly volunteering at camps and participating in the annual 1000Ks 4 Kids cycling fundraiser.

Like any social norm, he said the greatest challenge had been people’s perceptions of his choice to have a year off the beer.

“I always knew it’d be an interesting experiment, but it all depends on who you surround yourself with,” he said.

“Most of my mates have been supportive.

“But, other people who might not know me so well have dished out the peer pressure.

“It’s always, ‘Why aren’t you drinking?’, not ‘Why are you drinking?’”

Jack O’Toole (right) with Jarret Pacheco during the 1000Ks 4 Kids fundraiser for Camp Quality.

Jack said he’d noticed more young people choosing to give up alcohol, whether temporarily, for movements like Dry January and Dry July, or altogether.

“There’s a definite shift,” he explained.

“More people are realising you don’t need to go out on a Friday or Saturday night and get tanked just to have a good time.”

As well as the health benefits of more energy and mental clarity, Jack has found more time for old hobbies, replacing drinking sessions with surfing or skating with mates (plus the occasional extra coffee).

As an added bonus, it’s helping him save for a house.

“Sinking a hundred beers? Not in this economy,” he added.

Jack has reached almost $3,000 of his $10,000 fundraising goal.

To donate, go to https://fundraise.campquality.org.au/fundraisers/Jack.

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