Adam Sutton, the Cooronbong cowboy turned gay icon, will be joining Olivia Newton-John in China next week to take part in The Great Walk, a 250km trek to raise money for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne.

There will be a farewell party and fundraising night held this Thursday at Kells at the Kirketon, where exclusive Holywood memorabillia will be auctioned off and the new single recorded by Olivia and Delta Goodrem will be launched.

Sutton became a role model for gay men in rural areas after the airing of his Australian Story and after becoming known as the inspiration for Heath Ledger’s character development in Brokeback Mountain.

He was approached by Newton-John earlier in the year to take part in the event in memory of Ledger who also wanted to take part, and in an effort to rally support from the GLBT community.

Meeting Olivia was like meeting my Mum strangely enough, Sutton said.

Everyone knows who she is, but in person she is so down-to-earth and to watch her do things like this is really inspiring, the way she gives back to society and really tries to create change.

I am getting nervous about the walk. I was sitting here today actually, thinking, `shit that’s a long way’. I’d like to say that I’d been training, but I haven’t. But I’m pretty fit. I’ve been doing extra riding and I do a lot of walking between the stables and giving people lessons.

Walking through a range of terrains from Beijing city through the dust storm-ridden Gobi desert, Sutton is anticipating a challenge, though this shouldn’t be all too daunting for a man who braved publically telling about his coming out experiences in rural Australia.

I have embraced my reputation, he told SSO.

It really has been a privilege to hear about how my story helped and touched others. I’m glad to be a role model who can give encouragement to others, and hopefully help parents to understand what their kids are going through, particularly for those in rural areas.

The experiences for people there are very different from in Sydney, and that’s where my story has had the most impact.

Now turning his focus to raising support for another worthy cause, the treatment of cancer patients, Sutton, whose grandfather died of throat cancer said, cancer is one of those things that everyone has been affected by either closely or more distantly through someone else’s story.

Sutton’s farewell fundraiser will be hosted by out 2Day FM presenter Geoff Field and Sydney drag legend Hugh Monroe. It will feature a bevy of exciting entertainment acts, which are yet to be announced, as well as the premiere of the video of Newton-John’s Mardi Gras party appearance earlier this year. For those with deep pockets there is even the opportunity to bid on a spot walking alongside Olivia in the last leg across the Great Wall of China, into Beijing and on to the gala after party. Costing just $55, it is hoped that extra money will be raised via the auction and through Sutton’s online sponsorhip page.

Farewell Fundraiser, Thursday April 3, Kells at the Kirketon, 229 Darlinghurst Rd. Tickets: 0421 198 389 or email, [email protected] To sponsor Adam Sutton in his walk or if your business would like to donate to the auction, email [email protected]

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