By Estelle Sanchez
The Sunshine Coast’s Spartan Race is a famous event that encourages its participants to surpass themselves by undertaking a 25 obstacles challenge. For some of them, it’s also an occasion to fundraise money for several associations they want to support.
The Leukaemia Foundation is a non-profit organisation that aims to support people diagnosed with any type of blood cancer through accommodation, transport, education, and other practical services.
In Australia, 47 people are diagnosed with blood cancer every day, representing one person every 31 minutes and over 17,000 Australians every year.
Ben Wilson started participating in several races after his son Nate was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in March 2020.
“I’ve kind of always known of those obstacle races but never really had much of a drive to do it. But obviously, the cause pushed me that way,” Mr Wilson said.
The Leukaemia Foundation General Managers Supporters Alex Struthers said the foundation critically relies on donations to function and particularly fundraisers done during those events.
“Most of our funding comes from everyday people getting out there and doing amazing things for the Leukaemia Foundation,” Mrs Struthers said.
“Without that, we simply wouldn’t be able to offer the services we do. We don’t receive any ongoing government funding.”
Mr Wilson’s family didn’t need direct support from the Leukaemia Foundation when they had to face their son’s cancer, but it’s not the case for every family, Mrs Stuthers explained.
“If you’re a regionally-based family, somewhere in outback Queensland, and you need to relocate to a city centre for treatment, you may call on some of our accommodation and transport services because treatment can often last months,” she said.
Mr Wilson did fundraising for the foundation last year, where he competed in the five-km race and this year, he’s continuing on fundraising but doing the 10-km race.
“So you climb, jump, crawl under barbed wire, you carry sandbags, buckets of water, climb over the cargo,” Mr Wilson said. “And if you fail an obstacle, you do 30 burpees. It’s good fun!”
The Leukaemia Foundation also invests in research to try and understand more about blood cancers, and improve diagnosis to find the proper treatment for people.
“Over the past 15 years, our knowledge about blood cancer has increased tremendously. It changed the outcome for an enormous amount of people.
“It’s all positive, we’re heading in the right direction, but we need more support so we can invest more in the research and the support services,” Mrs Stuthers said.