By TILEAH DOBSON
The leading child protection organisation in Australia, Bravehearts provides training and education programs, counselling and support services to help combat child sexual abuse.
Established in 1997 by Hetty Johnson, who sought to help her daughter following her disclosure of sexual abuse, Bravehearts has since grown into the large not-for-profit organisation it is today.
Of course, it requires funding in order to continue its mission to protect children – hence, Bravehearts has launched registrations for the upcoming eighth annual Bravehearts 777 Marathon. The mammoth marathon will see participants running in seven back-to-back marathons, across seven states for seven days.
All funds raised will go directly towards funding crucial services such as counselling, education programs and child protection services across the country. These funds are vital for the continuation of Braveheart’s mission according to Bravehearts CEO, Alison Geale.
“Bravehearts relies heavily on funding to ensure that we can meet the increasing demand for our services. The money raised through campaigns such as the 777 Marathon play a key part in ensuring that we can continue our work,” Geale told the The Sentinel.
“The community awareness of the 777 events also ensures that people are engaged with the discussion regarding child sexual abuse. This is a key part of prevention – this discussion brings the topic out of the shadows,” she said.
“Over the last eight years, we’ve had more than 1,800 people run to protect children either nationally or in their own state for both our physical and virtual Bravehearts 777 events, raising more than $1.9 million for Bravehearts’ programs and services.”
After the 2020 marathon was cancelled and the 2021 event scaled back due to Covid-19, runner Douglas Noonan has signed up for this year’s marathon.
“Not only will this be the first 777 event I have participated in, the first run in Perth will be my very first marathon. Talk about jumping in the deep end,” Noonan told The Sentinel.
“My aim is to raise more awareness and much-needed funds to support the work which Bravehearts do in protecting Aussie kids. If running seven marathons in seven states in seven days can make a difference to even one child’s life, it’s a small sacrifice to make.”
As this is his first time participating in such a large marathon, Noonan has had to prepare extensively for it to ensure his safety.
“Training for seven consecutive marathons is completely unique and goes against most conventional marathon training plans where the recommendation would be to taper off in the weeks leading up to the event. I’m preparing as best I can through a combination of a rigorous training routine and diet to ensure I get through all seven marathons as injury free as possible,” he said.
Being such a large physical and mental task, Geale recognised that not everyone would be able to enter the marathon and encouraged people to help Bravehearts in other ways.
“For those who wish to be a part of the events but feel their fitness level may not be up to the challenge, you can participate through our virtual event, which is easy to be a part of, head to our website for all of the details on what is involved www.bravehearts.org.au,” she said.
“You can also donate to a national runner fundraising efforts or support them in person when the marathon hits your state. The success of the marathon is about the collective support and help we receive in all areas of the event.”
The marathon will kick off on Friday, 27 June and travel through Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Sydney and Canberra, before finishing at the Gold Coast on Sunday, 3 July as part of the Gold Coast Marathon.
For those wishing to register or find out more information, head to www.bravehearts.org.au/777 or phone 1800 272 831.
Tileah Dobson is the news editor and sub-editor of the Sydney Sentinel.
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