News Release

Melbourne Women Walk for Sight 


A group of women from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently participated in a mammoth trek in Melbourne to help bring sight to the blind. They walked as part of Coastrek, which raises funds for the Fred Hollows Foundation via annual 30 and 60 kilometre walking events in Melbourne, Sydney and the Sunshine Coast.

Since 2009, the events have raised over $17.2 million dollars to restore sight to blind people, train eye doctors and build eye hospitals in third world countries. “Improving fitness was a major incentive in our decision to participate,” said Coastrek participant, Lesley Tennant. “But we also thought the charity was something remarkable and wanted to support the amazing work the Fred Hollows Foundation does around the world”. 

Lesley, along with Nadia Eley, Emma Pocock, and Kerry Edwards formed a team several months prior to the event, signing up for the 60km walk.  Emma Pocock explained, “We talked about the two distances and decided that if we were going to do this we were going to do it properly and a 30km walk wasn’t enough of a challenge. At the started of our training many times we questioned ourselves and wondered what we were thinking!” 

However, they held onto their resolve during their intensive 12 week training period prior to the event, which required individual strength and fitness training in swimming, cycling, running, and weights as well as regular early morning walks as a team. The walks started at 15km and built up to 40km.

Preparation also included organising food and a support crew, hardening up feet, wearing in shoes and training in adverse weather conditions. “We trained in all sorts of weather - the rain was the worst,” said Emma. I was praying in the weeks leading up to the event that we would get a nice day for the actual walk.  My prayers were answered!  In the days leading up it was cold and raining or overcast."  

"But the day of Coastrek was beautiful!  Clear blue sky the entire day.  The weather turned again the next day.  We were very blessed,” she said.

The 60km route ran from Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula along tracks, roads and beaches all the way to Point Nepean. Despite the favourable weather, the trek wasn’t without its challenges for the team of four.

“One of our girls had bunions on her feet, so she needed to have them strapped by a podiatrist to prevent injury,” said Lesley. Another actually was getting over a bout of gastro two days prior to the event. We were a team and supported each other through any hard parts. We always stayed together,” she said.  

During the last 5km leg of the walk, each of the women had a family member meet them to walk the final distance with them. Just after 8pm, after walking for almost 14 hours, Nadia, Emma, Kerry and Lesley crossed the finish line, feeling exhausted but elated.

“Finishing with all four of us was wonderful, especially because we weren’t sure that one of us could go the whole way due to gastro,” said Emma. “The teamwork and friendship we developed over our training sessions and the actual day was something I will cherish forever. Knowing we had raised money for the Fred Hollows Foundation was the icing on the cake,” she said.

The team raised $2,459, and was among the approximately 1900 participants in the Melbourne event, which raised a total of $1.28 million for the organisation. 

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.