YUAN LIU & STAFF WRITERS
Thousands of fundraisers in the South East are putting their best foot forward this month to take part in the Bloody Long Walk, in order to help find treatments and a cure for mitochondrial disease.
Yesterday more than 1000 people took part in the Sunshine Coast leg of the Bloody Long Walk, and supporters in the Gold Coast and Brisbane will be the next ones to take part, with two more events scheduled in the area in September.
The Gold Coast event kicks off on September 13 and runs from Pizzey Park in Miami, through David Leah Conservation Reserve to Tallebudgera Creek, then down to Currumbin, before finishing in Pratten Park in Broadbeach.
The Brisbane event takes place on Sunday September 20, and starts at Sandgate’s Curlew Park before running through the Boondall Wetlands, along the bikeway to the river, through the Botanic Gardens and past Kangaroo Point, to finish under the Story Bridge.
The Mito Foundation is running 10 Bloody Long Walk events around Australia.
Each event challenges participants to walk, jog or run the 35km course, and allows entrants to join as either individuals or as teams.
Mitochondrial disease, or “mito”, is a debilitating and potentially fatal genetic disorder that impairs the body’s ability to convert food into the energy needed to power muscles and major organs.
Mito Foundation CEO Sean Murray said the event was part of a nationwide initiative that supports families touched by mito.
“The truth is every week in Australia one child will develop a life-threatening form of mito – that’s 50 Aussie kids a year,” Mr Murray said.
“Yet most people have no idea that the disease exists,” he said.
Mr Murray said the events would all follow stringent COVID-safe protocols and would be in complete compliance with local government health advice.
“Our detailed COVID-safe event plan has been approved by both the Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit and Sunshine Coast Council under the guidelines set out by Queensland Public Health Unit,” he said.
“The health and safety of both the participants and the broader community was and continues to be our number one priority.”
“The mito community is a high-risk population, with reduced immunity and particularly susceptible to diseases like COVID-19, so they really need our help now more than ever.”
Sunshine Coast couple Michelle and Brett Paulson took part in yesterday’s Bloody Long Walk in memory of their two beautiful boys, Hayden and Jacob, who both had mito.
“The money we raise goes to important research about the disease and to help support families who also have kids suffering from this rare disease,” Ms Paulson said.
“I know we’ll cross the finish line exhausted and blistered, but that’s nothing compared to what people with mito go through every day of their lives.”
In August, the Mito Foundation held a virtual version of The Bloody Long Walk for the first time, for people who were unable to take part in the physical event in their nearest city.
The event enabled people to take the challenge over a 10-day period, from August 1 to 10, rather than doing all 35km in one go.
Mito Foundation spokesperson Kana Frazer said the organisation had been holding their national series of Bloody Long Walks every year since 2013, but said it was the first time they had attempted a virtual event.
“Due to the COVID-19 situation, we were unsure if we could hold the physical events as usual, so we wanted to create something COVID-safe and easy to join,” Ms Frazer said.
“Also, the virtual event is much more accessible for most people, as they don’t have to complete 35km in a day.”
Bloody Long Walk participant Nathan Arandale said he decided to join the virtual event after seeing the event advertised on Facebook.
“To tell you the honest truth, it appealed to me because of the minimum distance needed to be walked and the potential for me to walk even further and to raise money for a worthy cause,” Mr Arandale said.
Walk participant Alexandra Lee said she also heard about the event through Facebook.
“The reason the event appealed to me is that I’m a sufferer of mito,” Ms Lee said.
“Plus, there’s not a lot of support or knowledge about mitochondrial disease in the general public and it was an important charity for me to try and support,” she said.
There are other Bloody Long Walk events taking place around the country throughout the year, with events currently scheduled in Adelaide (September 27), Sydney North (October 4), Newcastle (October 11), Canberra (October 18), Melbourne (November 8) and Sydney East (November 22).
For more information or to make a donation, visit the Bloody Long Walk event website.