The annual Laurie Bender-Barry Rushworth Walkathon for Cancer Research is a perfect example of the incredible power of community spirit.
Years ago, as the story goes, two old footy legends were having a beer in their favourite bar when the discussion turned to the topic of cancer.
Between them, the late Laurie Bender and Barry Rushworth, created what has evolved into one of the most successful fundraising events the state has seen.
This year, for the 10th anniversary of the Laurie Bender-Barry Rushworth Walkathon for Cancer Research, one of the event organisers John Kearns is expecting more than 800 people to lace up their sandshoes and make the 11-kilometre journey from Wallerawang to Portland.
“This walk was born from a friendly bet between two good mates and it has blossomed into a great community event,” John said. “Laurie and Barry were keen to raise both funds for cancer research and, importantly, raise awareness of the disease.”
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The duo were more successful than anyone could ever have imagined.
In its nine years, the Laurie Bender-Barry Rushworth Walkathon for Cancer Research has raised around $340,000 – a wonderful tribute to the men who conceived the idea and the locals who have thrown their support behind such a deserving cause.
Set down for Sunday, May 28, John is hopeful this year’s walk will steer the event towards the $400,000 mark for funds raised.
“We would love to hit the $400,000 mark this year – we always welcome a dollar or two – but we will be happy if people give what they can and enjoy a fantastic day,” John said.
With Laurie’s death in 2015 the walk has become even more special to those in the Portland and Wallerawang communities.
“He was one of the blokes that instigated this event and after Laurie’s death it’s more important than ever to us to continue the tradition in memory of all the great work he did,” John said.
John said those organising the walk owe a nod of thanks to a number of supportive organisations:
- Lithgow City Council for organising the Wallerawang-Portland road closure between 11am and 3pm
- Portland branch of the SES and police for their traffic management
- Wallerawang Bowling Club and GoodEarth for sponsoring the bus service, running from 8.30am, conveying walkers to start of the event.
- Raffle sponsors Ned’s Mowing Service, Portland Newsagency and Portland RSL Sport and Recreation Club.
- Williams Meats, Portland, for their sausage sizzle on Saturday, May 20.