Almost 1,000 people completed the inaugural WalkWest Virtual Landmarks Challenge (VLC) last month raising over $140,000 in support of Western Health.
Held between November 10 - 30, the challenge involved walking a virtual course of 42km in 21 days, checking into key landmarks and earning badges along the way. Participants took to their local areas to collectively walk more than 40,000km – longer than the distance between Melbourne and London!
Traditionally WalkWest is held each year on the last Sunday of March, with participants converging on Footscray Park to take part in a 2km, 5km or 10km walk or run alongside the Maribyrnong River. Over the last seven years the event has gained a loyal following, becoming a much-anticipated family event in Melbourne’s west.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions barring the gathering of crowds, this year’s WalkWest was initially postponed and then reimagined into a virtual event. At a time when the community was feeling despondent with the ongoing COVID situation, the online event provided a positive focus for the community to get active while also raising funds in support of our healthcare heroes at Western Health.
The uptake to the virtual event was overwhelmingly positive with many of our live participants transferring across to the online event, and plenty of new people joining us for the first time. Feedback on the virtual event has been highly positive with plans to hold a similar event next year alongside our traditional live event.
We would like to thank our WalkWest 2020 Event Partner Dow Chemicals; Gold Sponsors BankVic, Nufarm, Plenary and Victoria University and Silver Sponsors City West Water and LendLease.
Oz Tuzun works with Western Health as Information and Communication Technology Team Leader. He and his family participate in WalkWest each year. Oz was our top fundraiser in the WalkWest VLC raising $2,739.
“This year’s Challenge gave me a focus as we finished ISO; to get back into fitness and get moving again.
“I’d walk in the morning with my wife along the Moonee Ponds Creek, and at the end of the day, I’d jump on the treadmill and run a further 5km.
“ISO was hard on everyone. The WalkWest Virtual Landmarks Challenge came along at the right time. It was great to focus on getting my steps up.
“Nothing beats joining my colleagues and the community at the live event, but it was great to have the virtual event in its place and give me a focus.”
NB: Photo taken at WalkWest 2019
Peter Bellion is a retired Detective Sergeant with Victoria Police who left the force after 30 years due to PTSD. Peter now devotes his time to many charities, determined to leave a positive impact on the world. Peter joined WalkWest for the first time this year.
“I first heard about the WalkWest VLC on Facebook. It was a good opportunity to get behind my local hospital and support the healthcare heroes.
“My daughter is a nurse who did part of her training at Western Health and I feel connected to hospitals after spending much time in emergency rooms through my work as a crash scene investigator.
“I found the event fun and easy to be involved with. I walked my local area and golf course to meet my targets. All up I walked over 71km but there are km’s I missed as it was too hard to run the golf scoring app along with my fitness app.
“I enjoyed being part of the Facebook group and sharing my photos and seeing other people’s stories. Taking photos has been very therapeutic in reframing the trauma I saw day to day at work.
“I found my family and friends were supportive to donate when I shared updates on Facebook and I was really happy to exceed my target and raise $310.
“This is was the first time I participated in WalkWest but it won’t be the last! I’ll be looking forward to it next year.”
Tricia Malowney, Western Health Board Director, contracted polio as a four-month-old, and as a result, she now walks with assistance. Tricia was awarded an OAM in 2017 for her advocacy work to people with disabilities.
“I have a lifelong connection to Western Health. I was one of the first babies born at Footscray Hospital.
“I always take part in WalkWest each year, and this year when the pandemic hit, it would be no different. With the move to be an online event, I set myself the goal of virtually walking the distance between my house in Ringwood to Footscray hospital and then onto finish at Werribee Zoo. A total of 84km!
“I ended up walking that distance and more! I completed 144km in 3 weeks! I planned my walks around my work schedule – it was great to get out and about. Sometimes I would walk in the morning and evening, other times at lunch and evening – it was whenever I could fit it in, which is what I loved about the event.
“Many people get blisters on their feet from walking. Because I walk with crutches, I was getting blisters on my hands.
“Blisters and all, I really enjoyed walking my area and bringing awareness to highlight the work of Western Health. I loved checking into the virtual landmarks that bought back so many memories of my childhood – like sitting on the sea wall in Williamstown and eating ice cream.”