As a walker, my daily walking routine always involves at least one coffee stop.
Bobby’s Diner on Addison St was one of those regular stops. Darrel and Cleo, the owners at that time, noted that I walk a lot and asked if I had ever thought of walking for charity.
I said yes, I had thought of a charity walk to Sydney. They said they had a friend who helped children with cancer at Camp Quality and that it was a very worthy cause.
As a teacher myself I wanted to do something that was child-focused and so the first walk was planned.
What began as a casual conversation in a local coffee shop six years ago has now become a recognised and popular community event.
We did walk from Shellharbour to Botany Bay the first year aiming to raise $10,000 and actually raised over $25,000 with just over 100 local participants.
The next four years we walked from Shellharbour to Stanwell Park and back over a weekend, a total distance of 100km. To date the total raised is over $200,000 and last year we had over 500 entrants.
Our committee is now very focused and works hard on planning and organising the event.
We are supported by the generosity of a number of businesses and most importantly the wonderful people of the Illawarra who enter the event.
The total walk is 100km but participants can walk as much or as little as they wish.
I am personally determined to help this event grow and have committed to keep walking until we reach $1 million for Camp Quality.
Yes, it does hurt and yes, many people will suffer blisters. What really keeps us all going though is the thought that we will recover from our aches and pains.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every child with cancer could also make a full recovery.
Chris Lovatt is the founder of the Great Illawarra Walk, which starts from Shellharbour on Saturday, March 23. Details and registration: www.greatillawarrawalk.com/