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Running to remember: How Cameron honoured his aunty

Wednesday 21 October, 2020

18-year-old Cameron ran 300km in August in honour of his aunty.

Cameron hasn’t always been a big runner. But when cancer made a big impact on his life, he decided to do something big to help support people affected by cancer.

Growing a little restless during Victoria’s coronavirus restrictions, 18-year-old Cameron set himself a big challenge: he would run 300km throughout August. He wanted to not only see what he could achieve, but also give encouragement to people who had felt the impact of cancer.

This was something Cameron had just had to face himself, when his Aunty Claire died of breast cancer at the age of 48.

So after seeing another fundraising event online challenging people to run 100km in a month, Cameron decided to go many extra miles to make the biggest impact he could.

“I wanted it to be something challenging,” Cameron, a first-year commerce student at Melbourne University, said.

“I also wanted it to be something that might inspire other people a bit. Since my aunty had just passed away from cancer, I thought I could do that and raise money for cancer as well.”

Cameron chose to raise funds through Cancer Council to help people affected by cancer, setting himself a goal of $500.

It didn’t take him long to hit his target.

“It was phenomenal – we raised $500 in the first two hours after posting it to social media,” Cameron said. “It was honestly astonishing. I wasn’t expecting it at all!”

While the fundraising got off to a flying start, the physical side of Cameron’s challenge wasn’t quite as easy in the first few days. Having typically only run around 4km a year in his high school cross country, stepping up to 10km a day was no easy feat.

On top of worrying about the distance, coronavirus restrictions had imposed a time limit of just one hour’s exercise each day, forcing Cameron to keep an eye on the clock as well.

But luckily, it didn’t take long for him to find his stride.

“Going 10km a day was pretty tough for me,” Cameron said. “But luckily I’ve got some really knowledgeable mates who are really elite athletes giving me tips on recovery.

“I did want it to be something challenging, and it started off hard but got a bit easier. But by the end I was absolutely knackered!”

Running 10km was a challenge, but it didn't take Cameron long to find his stride.

Knowing the big difference his fundraising was making helped Cameron keep going, even when it was tough. But his fundraising challenge didn’t just help others; it helped him as well.

"This is my first year of uni and it’s been pretty crazy,” Cameron said, saying that beginning his studies while in lockdown had not been easy.

“I think the running helped with that jump from high school, because I’ve struggled a bit with studying. But if I get in my head I just think, I’ll go for my run now, and everything’s alright – I know what I need to do.”

This therapeutic effect even pushed him to run one or two extra kilometres some days, meaning Cameron was able to finish on the last day of August with an easy lap around the local oval. His family watched the last of his epic efforts and set up streamers for him to run his final steps through in celebration.

By the end of August Cameron had raised more than $1,600 in honour of his Aunty Claire – an extraordinary effort which went well past his initial target.

He hopes the money can now do some good for people affected by cancer.

“Any bit helps, so I hope it goes where it’s needed most,” Cameron said.

And as well as doing a wonderful thing to help work towards a cancer free future, Cameron’s fundraiser may have found him a new hobby – which he recommends others to consider taking up too.

“Running is a great thing to do as a fundraiser, but also for mental health and physical health,” he said. “Especially in lockdown, it’s very easy to get in the habit of sitting and becoming stagnant, so it’s great for you to get out into fresh air.”

Cameron enjoyed it so much that he even thinks he might do another fundraiser in the future.

“I had so much fun doing it. There are so many positives – you get more energy, so many benefits for your health, and you’re doing it for a good cause as well.”

See how you can Fundraise Your Way to support people affected by cancer.