At Figtree on Sunday, Renee Criddle felt "wrapped in a blanket of love".
Ten years to the day after the health episode that led to her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, Renee held a BBQ fundraiser at Rest Cafe. She's hustling to raise $6000 to trek Cradle Mountain as part of 'Do it for MS', and find a cure for the chronic disease.
"When I was diagnosed I didn't know much about MS at all," Renee said. "The average age of diagnosis is 30 - when you're young, having fun, planning your life and starting a family."
Sunday, May 30 was World MS Day. The day brings together sufferers, their friends and family to share stories, raise awareness and campaign for a cure to the most common neurological disease in young adults.
Renee's sister-in-law and best friend, Sarah De Vuono, was by her side through the fundraiser, and will also tackle the trek.
"At events like today you realise MS affects so many people," Sarah said. "Because it affects different people differently you never know the battles people face."
After her diagnosis Renee decided she wanted to live on her own terms.
"I've always been a positive person; I got given this and I had to figure out pretty quickly how I was going to use it for me and not against me," she said.
"I want to deal with it, not be defined by it. It sounds cliche, but that whole live each day like it's your last, I'm trying to do that. When an opportunity like the trek comes into your life don't worry about it, don't think it's too hard, just go for it."
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Between caring for their kids, Renee and Sarah have been training with a local hike each week, taking advantage of the Illawarra's natural beauty.
Leeches, rather than blisters, have been their nemesis. Making her diagnosis public has been another challenge for Renee.
"I'm a pretty private person, I always just wanted to get on with life," Renee said. "Now I see why people do share their story; you see how much people love you, you find comfort in each other."
To donate go to 'Renee & Sarah Conquer Cradle Mountain to Beat MS' on facebook.
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