Sun shines for fundraiser

Returning “home” to the banks of the Murray River was celebrated at the fifth annual Sunshine Walk recently.

More than 800 people from across the Border and North East took part in the five, 10 and 20km walks on November 12 to raise money and awareness for the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre Trust Fund.

It was the first time since 2019 that the walk could be held along the river because of flooding last year, and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

As part of the DIY option, teams and individuals also walked in towns across the region including Corowa, Myrtleford and Walbundrie, as well as interstate in Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Trust Fund chair, Michelle Hensel, was thrilled more than $160,000 had been raised, with more donations expected in the two weeks following.

“It’s an incredible, incredible effort,” she told the crowd at the start and finish line at the Albury Sports Ground.

“We understand that times are really tough for people, and we understand that families can’t really find spare money at the moment.

“But for you guys to get behind us year after year, it means so much.”

After completing the 5km walk from Alexandra Park with a small group last year, Wodonga couple Phil and Julie Wilkins returned with 20 members in their team, Phil’s Followers.

Mr Wilkins joined in a wheelchair pushed by a family member after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos, in December 2021.

“It was a fantastic day and Phil really enjoyed being here too,” Mrs Wilkins said.

“The course was shady, with beautiful scenery, and the atmosphere was fantastic.”

Mrs Wilkins said the walk was a cause close to their hearts after her husband has received immunotherapy and chemotherapy at the cancer centre, and has been an inpatient there for pain management.

“To lose this service would just be devastating,” she said.

“I don’t know how we’d manage if we had to travel.”

Bev Bardon walked 5km with her colleagues from the Albury Airport in memory of her sister, Vicki Window, who lost her battle with cancer in February.

With everyone dressed in yellow Sunshine Walk shirts, Ms Bardon said it was a great event that brought the community together for a worthy, local cause.

“As you came into the sports ground, it was just a sea of yellow, so it looked fabulous,” she said.

“It was really well organised and I’d definitely do it again, with a bigger team and maybe a longer walk.”

The walk is proudly sponsored by Healthfocus Physiotherapy, Vision Screenprinting, McDonald’s NGI Group, 1494 2AY and Dysons.