Samantha McLean and Mark Edwards to gear up for 700km Thailand ride for underprivileged children

Elite Agent Managing Editor Samantha McLean and Publisher Mark Edwards have long supported the Digital Live Ride to support underprivileged children in Thailand, but in 2025 the pair will officially don the lycra and cycle across The Land of Smiles.

They will join 28 other riders, including organiser Steve Carroll, on the Digital Live Home Hug Ride to cycle 500km across Thailand to raise money for Hands Across The Water (HATW).

HATW is a charity dedicated to protecting and providing shelter and education for disadvantaged children in Thailand who may have lost their parents, are unable to be cared for by their family or who have HIV and need support to live with the virus.

What will make the 2025 ride extra special is it will include an optional, two-day, 200km ‘Celebration Ride’ to mark 20 years since the Boxing Day Tsunami – the event that saw HATW founder and former Australian forensic police officer Peter Baines sent to Thailand to work as part of the disaster victim identification team after the tragedy.

As a result of that work Peter, and his wife Claire, established HATW in 2005, opening the first home Baan Tharn Namchai.

Ms McLean said Elite Agent had supported the ride since its inception in 2019, but the 2025 Home Hug and Celebration Ride felt like the perfect time to boost that support to completing the ride themselves.

“The Digital Live Ride has long been close to the Australian real estate community’s heart and we’ve seen what good comes from the more than $1.2 million that’s been raised in the past,” she said.

“In 2025, Mark and I have decided to step up our support and cycle the 700km in the Home Hug and Celebration Ride.

“We are also big believers in continually growing, learning and adapting and the ride is something that will push us outside of our comfort zone, and what better way to do that than with a personal challenge that will raise money for an incredible cause.”

Ms McLean said ride founder, and The Agency General Manager for Queensland, Steve Carroll, had also been instrumental in encouraging the pair to sign up.

She said every year since the ride’s inception, Mr Carroll had gently reminded them they should do the ride.

“Steve Carroll is the ultimate salesman and the master of the follow-up,” Ms McLean said.

“In real estate, we often talk about nurturing relationships and leads and Steve didn’t give up, he kept, very gently, planting the seed and, after five years of hearing ‘No’, he finally had us say ‘Yes’.”

Mr Carroll said spots in the 2025 Digital Live Ride were filling up fast, but real estate professionals who wanted to take part could still contact him to secure a spot.

He said the aim of this ride would be to raise between $250,000 and $300,000 for HATW and to push the total fundraising tally above the $1.5 million mark.

“The real estate community are very generous, they’re very creative, they’re very innovative and they’re also pretty competitive, which is why they do real estate,” Mr Carroll said.

“But that’s also great from a fundraising perspective.”

Mr Carroll said the funds raised by the ride would go directly to helping educate the children who live at HATW’s seven homes across Thailand.

“What the real estate industry is doing is giving the kids an education that they wouldn’t otherwise get, particularly a digital education,” he said.

“So we want to teach the kids how to use laptops. We want to teach the kids how to use technology, because when they leave the orphanages, if they are computer savvy, the opportunity for them to get a better job broadens and that helps break the poverty cycle.”

Steve Carroll with one of the Hands Across the Water children.

Mr Carroll also shared that while the fundraising supported the children, the physical ride itself was for the real estate professionals.

He said over the previous five rides more than 100 riders had cycled across Thailand and in the process had bettered their own lives. 

Or, as Novak Properties Director Mark Novak once said, the ride is the “ultimate human upgrade”.

“The fundraising is for the kids, but the ride is actually for the riders,” Mr Carroll said.

“You learn so much about yourself. 

“You learn so much about others, you gain a better perspective on what’s important and what’s not. 

“You make new friends, you make new business acquaintances, you get fitter and you get healthy.

“The ride is actually for you to become a better person.”

Mr Carroll said in 2025 other sponsors of the ride included connectnow and Diakrit, but there were still sponsorship options available for companies who wanted to get onboard.

He also urged groups to allow their corporate team or agents time away from the office to join the ride, just as his bosses Matt Lahood and Geoff Lucas at The Agency have done, to contribute to making the world a better place.

“What I’ve learnt is a lot of the great companies that have an incredible culture and who are an attraction business for new people, encourage their teams to lean in and do something for charity,” Mr Carroll said.

If you’d like to sponsor Samantha McLean in the Home Hug Ride, click here.

If you’d like to sponsor Mark Edwards in the Home Hug Ride, click here

For more information on the Digital Live Ride, including the Home Hug and Celebration Rides, click here or contact Steve Carroll on 0457 763 820.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.