Residents lace up for annual Breast Cancer fundraiser

PINK AWARENESS: Mount Gambier Mother's Day Classic committee members Phil Ackland, Chris O'Callaghan and Megan Medhurst gear up for a busy Mother's Day morning. Emma Telford and Nikki Ackland also form part of the committee. Picture: CHARLOTTE VARCOE

Charlotte Varcoe

MOUNT Gambier’s Valley Lakes precinct will be a sea of pink next weekend as the annual Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic fundraiser returns to raise funds for breast cancer research.

A cap of 300 has been placed on the popular event, scheduled for May 9, with participants able to walk, jog or run on 2km, 4km, 6km or 8km courses with staggered starts to be used to reduce crowding.

The national event will also include a virtual option this year with entrants able to select their own location and distance to take part.

Mount Gambier Mother’s Day Classic coordinator Chris O’Callaghan said the team was eager to host the event after the disappointing cancellation of 2020’s classic.

Mr O’Callaghan said the committee was focused on securing a significant number of registrations this year across the local and virtual components.

“The more registrations we can get, the more funds we raise for research which is fantastic and it is not always easy for people to come down on the day,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

Mr O’Callaghan’s wife Jayne lost her battle with breast cancer six years ago, with the classic growing to become a sentimental opportunity for himself and their three children to remember her loving and positive attitude throughout her seven year battle.

“During my wife’s battle with cancer the community was behind us the entire time,” he said.

“So to be able to give back to the community through this event while also supporting others who are going through a similar experience is a privilege.

“The most important thing about the day is to be able to give back and support others and it gives the day some real sentimental value for myself and my children to be able to participate in honour of my wife.”

Mr O’Callaghan had participated in Mother’s Day Classic events for over 15 years while living in Victoria and said it was wonderful the family could continue the tradition after moving to Mount Gambier mere months before Jayne’s diagnosis.

“Jayne was only 40 years old when she passed away but the entire time she was going through treatment she was amazing and very inspirational with her positive attitude,” he said.

“The day really brings people together and although it raises awareness for breast cancer and raises funds for research it is also a lovely way for people to start Mother’s Day because it is a very enjoyable day.

“As hard as it can be for people going through these experiences it is still a day where people are really supportive and positive which is a bonus for those who do come along.”

Mr O’Callaghan said he had observed a heartwarming bond between attendees, some of who were battling or recovering from cancer, while others walked in support or in memory of a loved one.

“There is a certain bond between people that have been through or are going through or have even survived breast cancer and that bond really holds people together,” he said.

“When people come down here for the walk we see a lot of different people talking to each other and just supporting each other which is fantastic.”

A first-time addition to the event will be the inclusion of pet registration, with pet owners able to bring their furry friends along for a $15 fee.

All registrations are entered into a random draw for a host of locally donated prizes.

“The community has once again really got behind the event and they have been great in their support, especially the businesses,” he said.

“Even though things are still tough for a lot of people they have really dug deep and got back into the spirit of things.

“We are so happy to be able to host the event once again and it is fantastic to see it going ahead because it is always a lovely morning walk for many across town but it is also about the support for people who are going through or have been through the same thing.”

The annual event will be held at the Valley Lakes Recreation Area on the morning of May 9, with registrations available online.

All participants will receive a limited edition race pack valued at more than $30 with a special race pack also available for children and participating bandanas for pets.

All funds raised will be donated to Breast Cancer Network Australia, which estimates 20,825 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, averaging 57 people per day with the mean age for the diagnosis being 62 years.