I made the decision to honour my friend Jake Apps memory while walking alone in a forest in Germany. I had been given the news of his death by my dad, while trekking overseas and I was struggling to come to terms with the loss of a childhood friend. Walking in nature helped me think.
Jake had suffered with cystic fibrosis since a baby and he fought for so long to do what many of us take for granted every day. The simple act of breathing. I wanted his life to live on in my actions.
I did not make it to my mates funeral in the country town of Crookwell where we had first played rugby together as boys. My way to honour Jakey was to trek. Just me, a back pack, a map and a purpose. Step by step. And thus begun my quest to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis through Trek for Jake – Walk for a Mate – just breathe.
Within 48 hours of hearing of Jake’s passing, I had decided to tramp the “long path” through Aetearoa, New Zealand. Te Araroa is 3000 kms in length and crosses through High country grasslands, imposing mountain passes, mighty rivers, volcanic landscapes and thick rainforests. It takes in beach and bush and the challenge is real.
I believe this journey would ask more of me, than I had ever given to any life venture thus far in my 25 years on this planet. It would ask me to dig deep. To risk, to struggle, to respect safety, to persevere. To share my story and Jake’s lived story. To not talk about it only; but simply put; do the thing.
I was honoured when I learned that due to my decision to do this, Indigenous owned business, ETM Perspectives would support me. They along with Canberra business, Rubik 3. For this, I will be always grateful. Uncle Duane Vickery is a friend and work colleague of my dad and wanted to support my venture because it “aligned with ETMP values” Values such as Intentionality, Risk, Struggle, Safety, Shared story and Lived experience. For me, everything this journey has been about thus far, is encapsulated in these values. Now that the South Island is behind me, I would like to choose 3 values to discuss.
Lived experience for me? It is in every step of the Te Araroa. It’s in every breath I take, every river crossing I make. The burning thighs when you summit a steep mountain pass with 20 kilos on your back. The hardness of the earth when you lie down to rest. It is in the witnessing of bravery from fellow trekkers to push out another kilometre when the shoulder straps are rubbing hard and the blisters are weeping into sweat drenched socks. It is lived, it is real. Just like Jake’s struggle to live was real. He lived the struggle daily.
Shared story is sharing the track with trail mates from France, Russia, Czech Republic, Germany, US, Canada, Italy, UK, Australia or NZ. Our own stories and the drive behind taking on this massive challenge head on, is what binds us together. This value resonates with me. I have learnt so much from listening to sister and brother adventurers and hearing their stories. I am humbled to share Jake’s story and in seeking to support a cure for cystic fibrosis.
Intentionality, is not a word I have ever used, but when I discussed this value with my dad and he described why intentionality was highly valued at ETMP, I knew straight away I valued intentionality also. When I decide, I commit. I do it That’s it in a nutshell.
I will then put in the work. The planning. The research, the training; and I will accept the risk and discomfort. I will also accept the reward of the challenge as much as the challenge itself. Trek for Jake was booked in and decided upon before I had returned home from trekking through the mountain ranges of Europe. There was no guarantee of support; financial or otherwise. I simply knew it was the right thing for me to do and so I simply did it. Details and support came later. Yes, intentionality is a value I share and I will need to remember this as the North Island stretches out before me. So from Bluff to the Marlborough Sounds and now; From Wellington to Cape Reinga.
Thank you everyone for your support. Please continue to support Cure 4 Cystic Fibrosis in the everyday hero fundraising page.
See you in the north.
Kia Ora and Kia Kaha.