Walk of Hope seven cheered as Brisbane trek starts
By REN LANZONnewsroom@gladstoneobserver.com.au
THE Leukaemia Foundation's Walk of Hope began with a countdown by more than 500 people yesterday morning who gathered to speed the walkers on their way.
The walkers left the Yaralla Sports Club car park about 8.30am among the cheers and wellwishes of the crowd shortly after the launch of the 540km, 14-day walk to Brisbane by the Minister for Emergency Service Chris Cummins.
'The turnout of people is greater than I had expected,' said Gladstone Leukaemia Foundation president Kim Turner.
'Friendly bets have been placed as to how many people would show up on the day, and this equals the highest estimate.'
City Councillor and an organiser of the walk, Chris Trevor, described the turnout as astounding.
He said although the launch of the walk on Mother's Day was coincidental, it probably contributed to the community support on the day.
Walk organisers hope to raise $100,000 along the way before reaching Brisbane.
The aim of the walk is to collect enough money to build an accommodation unit in Brisbane for families of leukaemia patients.
At the time The Observer went to print yesterday the walkers ? Chris Trevor, Queensland Ambulance Service paramedics Russell Thomas, Ben Ghee and Ian Brown, Kim Turner, Yaralla Sports Club's Kellie Shields and Choice Petroleum's Jo Ryan ? were 5km from Biloela.
Mr Cummins, a former Gladstone resident, said he looked forward to welcoming the group into Brisbane on May 21 at the Department of Emergency Services headquarters at Kedron.
A 20-strong contingency of supporters of Walk of Hope participant Jo Ryan were among yesterday's well wishers.
Her sister Vicki Pollock said she was proud of Mrs Ryan and all the other walkers.
'She is very determined and she will last the distance,' she said.Tax deductable donations can be made by phoning 1800 804 444 or 4978 7622.