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Dubbo shows creative flair in Bob Tug Walk

Tuesday 21 April 2020 in Patient stories

A group of eight walkers, called Team Grace, swapped the famed icons of Sydney for the charming local sites of Dubbo, elevating creativity in the Bob Tug virtual walk to a new level with their video, and helping kids with cancer, just like their namesake who inspired them.

A few weeks ago, just prior to Australia ratcheting up a notch to include heightened social distancing in its Coronavirus precautions, Team Grace took to the streets, bridges, natural wonders and landmarks of Dubbo in a 27 km trek prompting walker Andy Caroline to say, “I’ve lived in Dubbo my whole life but saw more of it than ever before during the walk.”

For Team Grace it all began just over four years ago when Grace, who was seven months old, was diagnosed with a very rare kidney cancer in November 2015.

“We first knew something was wrong when she started spiking fevers and we couldn’t get rid of them,” said her mother, Sarah. “We took her to doctor after doctor until one day I was playing with her on the floor and I felt a lump. We took her to Dubbo Hospital on a Sunday night and were flown to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.” Sarah, Keiran and Grace moved to Westmead as a family during her initial treatment and did not see Dubbo again for five months. “Grace has been through numerous rounds of chemotherapy and two blocks of radiation,” said Sarah. “They saved Grace’s life.”

Grace inspired her grandmother, Leanne, to do the Bob Tug Walk for Kids with Cancer soon after her diagnosis and an expanding group of friends has joined her each year.

Coronavirus curtailed this year’s walk, and participants were invited to do a virtual one instead in a location of their choice, enabling Team Grace to don distinctive orange and black trimmed Bob Tug shirts and numbered bibs and reveal this important fundraising event to the curious locals they passed in Dubbo.

Balmoral Beach is replaced by Dubbo's Sandy Beach on the Team Grace walk

The walk raises vital funds for the Cancer Centre for Children at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and helps to improve treatments, buy equipment and fund research. “When you donate money through Bob Tug you can really see where it goes. It goes straight to kids like Grace,” said Sarah. “The research is important for the kids. Without the research they wouldn’t be here. We’ve walked through the research centre and it’s amazing, but they always need more funds to make a difference. One day, I hope they will have a cure.”

Walking through Sydney and enjoying breathtaking harbour views with friends and family is a calendar highlight for many in the Bob Tug walk, but this year’s change to a virtual community event opened previously unexplored options.

“It was a bit of a disappointment to be unable to go ahead with the walk and see the highlights in Sydney, but we thought the next best thing would be to do the highlights in Dubbo,” said Andy Caroline, who created a humorous video of Team Grace’s odyssey.

Sparkling Sydney Harbour was replaced by the beautiful gum-lined Macquarie River, instead of the Harbour Bridge there was Shibble’s Bridge, and Taronga Zoo’s partner, the immersive Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, offered a unique replacement. A small cheer squad met the walkers every hour, providing sandwiches to keep their energy up during the six-hour walk.

Team Grace admired Dubbo's highlights on their 6 hour odyssey

Team Grace have raised an amazing $3613 so far through the walk, to help children with cancer, and people can donate until Thursday 30 April 2020. Grace, who is now five, was given the all-clear 15 months ago and school is high on her list of favourite things. “She loves going to school and seeing the other kids,” said Sarah. “Grace has been in isolation 90% of her life and now she’s isolated at home with the coronavirus measures. Everyone’s in the same boat though.”

The walk is a reminder of her daughter’s tough journey, and the help she received at the Cancer Centre.

“The Bob Tug walk inspires us and we do it to help more kids like Grace," said Sarah, “She wouldn’t be here today without her treatment.”

Thank you Team Grace! Their wonderful walkers are Leanne Toll, Katrina Wilson, Min Coleman, Ann Maul, Carolyn Carter, Carol Hayton, Shelley Carolan and Andy Carolan and their donation page is here.

The Bob Tug Virtual Walk Challenge finishes on Thursday 30 April 2020. Take a look here to donate to walkers (at the bottom of the page) or find out more.

Watch the Team Grace video below!

Team Grace (Dubbo) - 2020 Bob 'Tug' Wilson's Walk for Kids with Cancer

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