Taking the long
Soaring petrol prices have been good for Wellington university student Emma Daken, 20.
It means she wasn’t tempted to drive her car from her Tawa home into Victoria University for lectures. Instead, she took the train and then did the three-hour walk home at the end of the day.
The marathon walks have been useful training for Emma’s summertime project: a 70 day, 2200km New Zealandlong walk from Cape Reinga to Invercargill.
Emma, the sports and fitness mad political sciences student pictured right, is the youngest New Zealander to walk the length of the country and is doing so to raise awareness and research funds for cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis is our most common life-threatening inherited disorder. Those born with the condition must live with chronic and life-threatening respiratory and digestive problems.
CF is found mainly in those of Caucasian origin and is rare in Africans, Asians and Polynesians. .For a child to be born with CF, both parents must be carriers. Of all births in New Zealand, one in 3000 to one in 3500 infants born will have CF. This is usually detected through routine blood tests just days after birth. There are more than 400 children and adults with CF in New Zealand.
Emma first learned about the disease when she befriended a girl at intermediate school living with CF. They became best friends. During the years, Emma has watched her friend struggle with breathing and digestive problems, spend long periods in hospital and deal with the adverse effects of some medications.
Earlier this year, Emma helped save her friend’s life. “We were on holiday in Taupo when my friend deteriorated,” Emma recalls. “She was finding it very difficult to breath and turning blue so I drove her straight to the hospital where she spent New Year’s Eve and the following five or six weeks.”
Within the week, Emma decided to undertake a fundraiser for CF and started training as well as organising the walk from Cape Reinga to Invercargill.
She must walk around 50kms five days a week to make the January 9 finish date. “50 km is the most I have to walk in a day. I have a few shorter days, but I am definitely up for the challenge. I also have ‘rest days’ so if need be, I can make up ground on those days.
“It was difficult to decrease the distance, as I have university and other commitments to be back for, and the cost alone - so decreasing the distance and extending the time on the road was not an option.”
Jucy Rentals is sponsoring Daken to walk the length of New Zealand. Jucy chief executive Tim Alpe says they had no hesitation in offering Emma and her support crew a campa vehicle and a car for the whole 70 day journey.
Emma will visit many of New Zealand’s large and small towns on her walk and hopes to get a lot of local support for her campaign. Her goal is to raise $50,000. She has created a fundraising page - http://www. fundraiseonline. co. nz/ EmmaDaken08/ so you can follow her walk.