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Get your sneakers ready for a ‘Bloody Long Walk’ from Stanwell Park to Wollongong on Sunday

Picture: Daniel Reche on Pexels.com

MORE than 1,100 walkers will make their way 35kms through the spectacular scenery of Wollongong’s northern suburbs on Sunday (June 26 2022) to raise funds for the Mito Foundation.

Sunday marks the first time the Bloody Long Walk has come to Wollongong. It will kick off at Stanwell Park Beach Reserve; follow the stunning coastline along Lawrence Hargrave Drive and Sea Cliff Bridge to Wombarra, where walkers will head into the escarpment bushland along Morrison Avenue, through Lady Fuller Park, before joining the coast again at Austinmer.

From Austinmer the walk will again follow Lawrence Hargrave Drive to Thirroul from where participants will enjoy the spectacular vistas along the shared coastal bike and pedestrian path into the finish at MacCabe Park, Wollongong.

Mitochondrial disease (mito) is a debilitating, potentially fatal, genetic disorder that robs the body’s cells of the energy they need to function properly.

Participants will walk for more than seven hours, clocking up nearly 47,000 steps, all in support of raising funds and awareness for the Mito Foundation and its goal to end mitochondrial disease.

Regular participant, Amanda Johnston, is participating in her 10th Bloody Long Walk this weekend.

“This weekend will mark my 10th Bloody Long Walk in 10 years! I’ve walked Sydney North and Sydney East many times and now can’t wait to tackle the new Wollongong course,” Ms Johnston said.

“I have close friends who have lost family members to mito so I know the impact of this cruel disease. The least I can do is walk for a few (well, six to seven) hours this Sunday to help raise much needed funds and awareness.”

And this year, walkers will have an extra spring in their step following the recent passing of the Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) Bill 2021 through the Senate on 30 March 2022.

The passing of this legislation will allow Australian families with certain forms of mito to access mitochondrial donation, an IVF technique, to have healthy children of their own.  

An estimated one in 200 people or 120,000 Australians, carry the genetic change that puts them at risk of developing mito, or passing it on to their children.

Mito Foundation CEO, Sean Murray, said the event is part of a nationwide initiative which supports families affected by mito.

“We are very excited to bring the Bloody Long Walk to Wollongong for the first time! So far, the response in Wollongong has been outstanding and registered teams have already raised more than $160,000 for the cause,” Mr Murray said.

“The truth is every week in Australia one child will develop a life-threatening form of mito – that’s 50 Aussie kids a year.

“Sadly, most children diagnosed with a serious form of mito die in the first five years of their life.

“Yet most people have no idea the disease even exists.

“All money raised will help us deliver support services for mito families and patients facing this debilitating disease, while providing hope for the future by funding research projects.”

For more information about the Bloody Long Walk, to share your support, or contribute a donation, go to: https://www.bloodylongwalk.com.au/wollongong/

ABOUT MITOCHONDRIAL DISEASE

  • Mitochondrial disease results from the failure of the mitochondria, which are located in the cells of our bodies. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed to sustain life and support growth. When mitochondria fail, less energy is produced causing cell injury or cell death. On a larger scale, organ systems begin to fail. The disease is debilitating and often terminal.
  • There are no cures and few effective treatments.
  • Mitochondrial disease affects 1 in 5000 people, making it the second most commonly diagnosed, serious genetic disease after cystic fibrosis.
  • One in 200 people, or more than 120,000 Australians, may carry genetic changes that put them at risk for developing mitochondrial disease or other related symptoms including diabetes, deafness or seizures during their lifetimes. Many of these people are symptomatic but undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, some are not yet symptomatic, and others are unknowingly at risk of passing the disease on to their children.
  • There are many forms of mitochondrial disease; it is highly complex and can affect anyone at any age.

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.

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