Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New Idea Feature Story July 2006

Here is a great inspirational story from the Maverick archives. The story featured in that weeks edition of New Idea.

Debbie Shiell, a great Maverick Spirit supporter wrote to me some time ago giving me details of her quest to raise funds for breast cancer research. She told me that she and three friends were planning to walk the Simpson Desert. The idea appealed to us here at The Spirit and Business Seminars Australia and we decided to support the Desert Mums quest. In this weeks edition of New Idea there is an article recounting the successful desert trek... it makes for inspirational reading.

"Four brave mums trekked across the Simpson Desert in a bid to raise dollars for breast cancer research.

For 18 days, Debbie Shiell faced flies, unforgiving heat, sand hills and blisters. But, as a mother, she did it for a reason close to her heart - breast cancer.

In May, Debbie left behind her home in Melbourne to trek 385km across the Simpson Desert with three friends. And in doing so they raised more than $115,000 to go towards National Breast Cancer Foundation research.

About 18 months ago, Debbie was chatting to her friend Susan Bartell. "Susies's father Denis was the first non-aboriginal to walk the Simpson Desert solo and unaided 22 years ago. Susie asked to go with him, but Denis told her the desert was no place for a lady. Susie vowed to walk across the Simpson one day," 36-year-old Debbie says.

"She asked me to go with her and I knew I'd remember that moment."Debbie's husband Craig supported her plans, but friends ere stunned. "They thought I was nuts, but they finally came around." Debbie laughs.

For the next 18 months, Debbie, Susan, 44, Margot Burns, 43 and Carolyn McLean, 42, prepared for that adventure. Denis offered to support the women as they walked."Until then I was good at staying up late and eating Tim Tams," Debbie says. "I could hardly walk around the block."

Weight training, walking and triathlons became routine for the women until they waved emotional goodbyes to their families on May 5 and tool their first steps."Leaving Craig and my two girls - Madeleine, six, and Georgia, four - was one of the hardest moments, but we were walking for a reason. All of us know someone with breast cancer," Debbie says. "Women going through breast cancer and having to say goodbye to their children forever, well, that shouldn't happen."

The women faced a harsh landscape. As they walked, flies covered their back and at night they massaged blistered feet.Highlights included the day a retired couple baked them an apricot layer cake in a camp oven and releasing 2,500 balloons - one for every breast cancer death in Australia each year - on top of Big Red, the largest sand hill in the Simpson.

"We felt such relief and pride as we walked into Birdsville at the end of the journey," Margot says. "Even Denis had a tear in his eye."

For Carolyn, the hardest part of the journey was separation from her children. "It was hard not being in their lives each day. I also suffered large blisters on my feet and extreme swelling in my ankles. But I was determined to succeed," she says. Susan reveals: "One of the most special moments was reaching Birdsville. I don't think Dad has ever hugged me so hard or let his tears flow so easily - especially in front of a pub full of rugged blokes."

The women have returned to their everyday loves, but all of them have been inspired by their journey and Debbie's ready for another fundraising adventure.

"I'd like to tackle the desert again one day," she says. "I hope women will remember why we walked and will be breast aware. If we save one little girl from losing her mother prematurely, every step of that desert walk was worth it."

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