Tak­ing the long

Central Leader - - News -

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.

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