Living with scleroderma is not an easy task and after her mum was diagnosed with the condition, Tamara Kennedy and her family decided to do anything they could to help.
The disease itself causes hardening of the skin and affects internal organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys but Tamara said her mum is battling like a champion.
“My mum inspires us each and everyday to keep going,” Tamara said.
“It was almost two years ago that mum was diagnosed with scleroderma, and there is no cure which is something we want to help with.
“Scleroderma is classified as an autoimmune disease meaning a person’s immune system works against itself.
“The normal immune system protects the body by fighting off foreign invaders such as viruses and infections but in an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes a person’s own tissues as foreign invaders and sets up a protective attack that backfires to cause problems.
“As a family we put our heads together and my dad actually came up with a plan to walk over 470kms in rural Australia to raise funds and awareness for the debilitating disease.”
Affecting approximately 5000 people nationwide there is so much about this disease that scientists are unsure of and Tamara said that the family are hoping to change that, one dollar at a time.
“Last year we started a legacy to raise awareness and money for ongoing research to hopefully find a cure, and we put on our walking shoes and walked from Narellan to Ariah Park – a little town in the Riverina – raising more than $30,000 for Scleroderma Association of NSW, ” she said.
“And this year we are going to do a similar walk increasing our total distance to 500kms and hopefully raising even more money to help researchers.”
Over two weeks, the group will walk from Port Macquarie to Narellan in June and Tamara said her mum will be by their side the whole way.
“Our walks are intense but the pain we will feel is nothing to how my mum and others who live with scleraderma feel everyday.
“Our last walk was a pretty flat but this time we will be walking along the coast which means the terrain will be a lot steeper so that will be a new challenge for us.
“To put it into perspective we will be walking almost 40kms every day for 14 days – the equivalent of walking a marathon every day for two weeks.
“But we are all walking for my mum and I know she is so proud of us and is a part of our support crew, like we are for her each and every day.”
Tamara and her family will begin in Port Macquarie on June 16 and will be on the outskirts of Taree on June 17. They expect to arrive in Narellan on June 29, click here to follow their journey.
To donate to 500,000 steps for Scleroderma click here.