Each year The Bloody Long Walk aims to raise money to support people living with mitochondrial disease. This year, it got personal for ioMerino Outsider Jess, who agreed to not only take part, but go even longer to help one of the kids at the local kindergarten.
At ioMerino we pretty much love everything about Jess. He's just a bloody good bloke, as we like to say here in Australia. He's a great ambassador for our brand, and when he mentioned he was doing a 50km race this weekend, we wanted to know more so he filled us in.
"A few weeks ago a parent from our local kindergarten received the devastating news that their youngest daughter - she's just 4.5 months old was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. I'm not sure how much you know about it, but it's pretty bloody awful. There is no known cure and very few effective treatments" he explained.
And he was right, we knew next to nothing about this disease, but 'mito' is a genetic disorder that robs the body's cells of energy, causing multiple organ disfunction or failure and potentially death. Symptoms can be anything from muscle weakness and visual and hearing problems, through to heart, liver and kidney disease. So he was right, it's pretty bloody awful.
But Jess isn't one to sit around and do nothing, so after a few meetings with the palliative care team, he found out all the family really wanted them to do was participate in the Mito charity's biggest fundraiser which just happened to be coming up.
"Our kindy only has 30 students, and initially I thought it might just be myself and the kindy director getting involved, but in no time we had a team of 60 adults signed up to do the walk and almost as many offering to join as a support team.
Before the team expanded to 60, their initial fundraising goal was a relatively modest $1,400 and in an effort to push for as much as possible, Jess thought he'd up the ante a little.
"I was silly enough to shoot my mouth off early suggesting that if we managed to raise $5,000 I'd start at the finish line at around 5:00am, run 15km to the start line, and then run the remaining 35km with the team."
It turned out he radically under estimated the generosity of the community and is now getting ready for his extended run/walk.
"We originally set out hoping to raise $1,400 for the foundation, but just a few weeks later we have hit the $23,000 mark!" he explained. Of course, an accomplished runner, the distance shouldn't be too much of an issue for him, although he says he's not looking forward to the 5am start in order to meet his team at the official start line.
Jess says the team has managed to do all this, despite the fact many of them haven't walked further than the local shops for decades. "It's been quite entertaining to be out running over the past couple of weeks and seeing plenty of familiar faces cramming in a few kilometres in preparation."
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